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Short films, like short stories, get short shrift. Both are often dismissed as stepping stones to "serious" work rather than treated as legitimate, stand-alone art forms. "So, when are you going to make your feature?" is the new "So, how's your novel coming?" It's hurtful, people. But there are signs of enlightened progress, like the now-annual theatrical release of the Oscar nominees for best live-action and animated short. The S.F. International Festival of Short Films keeps the momentum rolling with a collection of 60 or so polished gems, selected for their concentrated inspiration, breathtaking craft, and unabashed entertainment value. (The fest's cash awards serve as a powerful magnet for submissions, so quality is assured.) With irresistible titles like "Honorable Madness" (Aug. 10) and "Giveth and Stealeth" (tonight at 7), each program of miniclassics is a master class in rhythm, pace, and payoff. The tourists are right, after all. San Francisco in the summer is a fine place for shorts.

"Giveth and Stealeth" is followed by the festival kickoff party, which features music by Felonious and music videos from around the world.

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