Remember how every one was bitching about the shorts that played before every screening at this year's Sundance? SXSW has intro shorts, too, and whilst I havn't yet heard any real complaints, the novelty has certainly worn off for me.

Before every SXSW screening, one of two versions of the same film plays. The basic premise: an indie filmmaker arrives in Hollywood and buys a Star Map. The vendor offers to sell him a set of keys for $10. The filmmaker gets to the house on the map and uses the keys to open the door. Once inside, he calls out one of two names, either "Jeff!" or "Ron!". A note leads him down a staircase, which leads him into a dark basement room.

In this room, men in druid robes are chanting and marching in a circle in front of a film projection. The indie filmmaker looks around, astounded. Subtitles onscreen say something like: Filmmaking is a secret club. Close-up on one of two actors - either Jeff Goldblum or Ron Livingston. Goldblum Goldbulms it up: "Uh...hi. Uh.,.yes. Yes, uh, okay." Livingston is much less memorable: "Okay, you can stay." Superimposed over the actor's face is the line: "But you can join." Fade out on the young indie filmmaker, soaking it all in.

At the first screening I went to, I saw the Goldblum version, and thought it was sort of genius. Then later that afternoon the Livingston version played, and I thought, "Huh. Not really as funny." Now, after having seen both versions several times ... I'd could do without either. The audiences seem to agree with me: on Saturday Goldblum was hemming and hawing to grand chuckles; before Monday afternoon's screening of High School Record, I heard one unsure titter.

Why do festivals do these things, anyway? Yeah, they provide an excuse to project a few corporate logos, but would a 25-second "tribute" to the same sponsors cause anyone to complain? What do you think?