I wish I had more opportunities to watch short films. Erik's Eat My Shorts column isn't enough -- I always try to see at least one shorts program at film festivals (I'm especially fond of the animated films), and I'm usually thrilled when shorts appear before feature films. It's one reason why I look forward to Pixar movies: you get not only the feature but also a cool short. So you can imagine how pleased I am today to learn that once again, Magnolia Pictures and Shorts International are teaming up to distribute the 2006 Oscar-nominated shorts. Even better, the films will be shown in theaters before the Academy Awards ceremony, so we can actually make informed choices in the Oscar pool.

The unusual thing about the distribution deal this year is that it's so early -- no one knows yet exactly what the nominated shorts lineup will be. Last year, Magnolia announced a similar deal ... but not until February, after the Oscar nominations were publicized. It's a little weird to hear about distribution for as-yet-unnamed films, but I assume none of the filmmakers will object to this chance for wider exposure of their short films. The shorts will not only see theatrical release, but will distributed through Magnolia Home Entertainment (which I assume means a DVD release), and on other platforms. You may even be able to watch the films on your cell phone if that's your idea of a fun viewing experience. I prefer the theater myself. The shorts will appear in theaters in 20 cities (please please let one of them be Austin please) on Feb. 16, 2007, a little more than a week before the Oscars.