Every film festival is a grab bag--a mix of the unpredictable, exciting, and disappointing--but shorts festivals are more random than most. Short films, ranging from eight seconds to 30 minutes long, will play continuously at the 1 Reel Film Festival, without repetition. It works like this: When you get tired of listening to music and your arches are beginning to throb, duck into the cool, dark Intiman Theatre and hope something will surprise you. I feel like I'm spoiling the fun by giving any indication of this year's selections, but rest assured, the picks described below represent a tiny fraction of the films you'll have a chance to stumble upon.

Vessel Wrestling (Fri Aug 30, 5 pm)

Lisa Yu's bizarre, creepy Claymation short delves into hair, fluids, and bodily mixtures. It's much more refined than it sounds, but no less disturbing.

Birju (Sat Aug 31, 2 pm)

A mischievous Indian boy scampers around Pushkar, snatching things that don't belong to him and blinking his innocent blue eyes for the camera. Apparently the kid is a budding photojournalist, because everything he's attracted to--pretty colors, things that spin--look like they could have been lifted right out of National Geographic.

I Am Ali (Sat Aug 31, 4 pm)

Dream Hampton directs the astonishing Ishmael Butler (of Digable Planets) in this cinema vérité portrait of a man who thinks he's Muhammad Ali. Plenty of handheld-camera shots and uncomfortable situations, but the acting is definitely the central attraction here.

The Freak (Sun Sept 1, 1 pm)

An ominous vision of a future San Francisco, where social deviants are exposed phrenologically: The normal people all have little alien heads. Enter "The Freak," who riles everyone up with his grotesquely cute mug and wacky dance moves. Lovely computer animation.

Member (Sun Sept 1, 5 pm)

Josh Hartnett reprises Brad Pitt's Fight Club role in this jerky, cluttered exemplar of modern digital editing. All Brad's aphoristic anti-consumerism is here, but the delicious ambiguity about that film's ultimate meaning is lost. We know from the moment the little boy thanks Jesus for his penis that Josh Hartnett is a sleazy chump, and the black women laughing at him from the back seat of his car won't let us forget it, either.