For the second year in a row, The Stranger has rallied Seattle’s professional and amateur filmmakers with a challenge: Create a film that captures your unique brilliance, features The Stranger in some capacity, and is exactly 28-seconds long.

This year brought another avalanche of contenders, which were screened before a panel of Stranger cinephiles with short attention spans. After several screaming arguments, a winner was decided—Astronaut vs. Caveman (website), the transcendently stupid masterwork by Sean Reid, which will enjoy a handful of glorious screenings before the four Stranger-sponsored films at the 2005 Seattle International Film Festival. But you can also see it here (high-bandwidth, low-bandwidth).

Still, winning isn’t everything—as evidenced by the copious delights of the 28 Seconds runners-up, the most notable of which are featured and explicated below.

Something a Little Stranger (high, low)

Punsterism gets a jolt of the literal in Brad Strain’s ode to inky altruism. Heartwarming and creepy!

Killed by a Stranger (high, low)

The French subtitles in David Derickson’s entry made us squeal, “Ooh!” while the protagonist-switcheroo made us exclaim, “La la!” (Bonus points for needless frog-slandering and moody black and white.)

Wolfman vs. Robot (high, low)

Inspired costume design meets high-octane action in the second-best of this year’s battle films. And while Sean Reid’s winning Astronaut vs. Caveman claimed top honors with its enthralling final frame, Kevin Clarke’s runner-up Wolfman vs. Robot boasts the better message: Can’t we all just get along, with beer?

Dancing Stranger (high, low)

For sheer conceptual chutzpah, it’s hard to deny the brilliance of Jason Ryan’s beguiling Dancing Stranger, whose 28 seconds hold more mystery than a dozen Hollywood thrillers. What did the girl read in The Stranger? Why does she run? And how did that guy get to be so fucking awesome?

Great Guy & Good Boy (high, low)

In Michael Sanchez’ Great Guy & Good Boy, one Spandex-clad man instructs another in the ways of Stranger spokesmodeling. Is it some superhero spin on Tuesdays with Morrie? A gritty parable of father-son dynamics? Or just a psychotic fever dream? Yes, yes, and yes!

Lastly comes a great 28 Seconds tradition in 28 Seconds: Films exploring the hilarious world of pooping, each one of which invariably involves a shot of an empty toilet paper roll and a should-I-or-shouldn’t-I? dilemma re: wiping with The Stranger. This year brought no less than three poop options, including:

Decisions (high, low)

The most basic of the latest wipe dramas, directed by one Arthur Kuniyuki.

Un Choix (high, low)

Kirk Hostetter’s nimble reworking of the poop angle amps the humanity—the guy really tries to look likes he’s pooping—and adds a triumphant Stranger-vs.–New York Times angle.

Movement (high, low)

Edgerton Newcomb’s is the grittiest of the defecation dramas, featuring an eye-patched defecator, gruesome sound effects, full Stranger penetration, and an upsetting use of brown.