For a few years now, Cinema 16 has been packaging great short films on Region 2 DVDs for European release, but as far as I can tell, this new "European Short Films" collection, with 16 short films on two discs, is the first to get the Region 1 treatment. This new set culls shorts from various previous collections; I'm not sure why they just didn't re-transfer the European DVDs for American release, but no matter. What we have here is a wide selection of shorts from many decades, by filmmakers both famous and unknown. Probably not too surprisingly, the best shorts come from folks you've never heard of. Most of these folks provide commentary tracks for their work (almost all of it in English).
Like many authors, filmmakers sometimes try the short form in order to "practice," which ultimately shows a kind of lack of respect for the medium; it's seen as a stepping stone to features rather than a form in itself. But it also sorts those filmmakers that are good at the short form from those that aren't. Ridley Scott's first film, Boy and Bicycle (1965), starring his little brother Tony as a young boy, is a particular example of a failed attempt. Scott admits a fascination with John Schlesinger (Billy Liar) at the time, and his endless attempts at arty realism are painfully dull. This film was also released on Paramount's The Duellists DVD, and both times I sat down to watch it, I couldn't make it through. It's a pretty long 27 minutes.