I like to think that these are great times for short films. What was once a marketing tool used by independent filmmakers to display their work in the hopes of securing a larger gig, shorts are gaining in popularity big time, what with it being fairly easy to create one and promote it either online or through a number of different film festivals that cater specifically to short films. Even airlines are digging shorts; Delta and Gen Art are currently running a contest that will showcase a number of shorts onboard their flights, allowing passengers to vote on their favorite.

The next step? Well, we want theatrical distribution. Screw all those previews and commercials, how about we start showing short films before each movie? In my opinion, we're not too far away from that -- I mean, just the other day Jette told us how Magnolia Pictures was teaming up with Shorts International to distribute the 2006 Oscar-nominated shorts in 20 cities throughout the country prior to the awards ceremony. Kick ass! Oh, and that's not all Shorts International has in store for us -- recently they released 16 shorts from graduates of the AFI Conservatory online for purchase on iTunes. These films represent the very best from AFI's short film catalog, and range from Oscar winners to debut performances from actors like Robin Williams (who stars alongside Andy Kaufman in the hilarious Just For A Laugh). Each one costs just $1.99, and can be found by searching for Shorts International within iTunes. For a complete list of the films available, head on over to our sister site DVguru who tipped us off on this fantastic opportunity. And make sure you head on over to AFI's official website to learn more about what they're about.