Not long ago, we told you about a neat little contest that Delta Airlines was hosting as part of a collaboration with Gen Art. The concept: Gen Art would invite filmmakers to submit their short films and, along with Delta, the two would choose five finalists -- all of which would be available to watch on select Delta flights, as well as online. Whichever short collects the highest rating (both in the air and on the computer) will receive a sweeet prize package that includes $10,000 in cash, a trip for two to the Sundance Film Festival (where they'll be invited to attend a celebratory party and watch as their short film is screened at said party), a pair of two round-trip international tickets for any Delta flight and a $2500 Gen Art membership. (I'm not sure what in the world you get for $2500 over at Gen Art, but I'd expect a ton of invites to some really cool parties, on top of a slew of free liquor and lots of ass-kissing.)

Personally, I love the idea that short films will have a chance to find a new audience (one that's not so tapped in to the festival scene) at 35,000 feet. Sure, folks who read this site probably watch shorts regularly, but people like my parents (who fly Delta all the time because my sister-in-law is a flight attendant with them) don't go to festivals and they don't do a ton of surfing online, save for the occasional shopping spree and stupid email forwards. (I told you mom, I don't open those stupid things -- they're a waste of my time. Stop sending them to me.) Needless to say, this will be a fabulous way for a filmmaker to get their short film in front of a mass audience, the kind that looks to Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood when trying to decide which movie to watch over the weekend. That's not necessarily a bad thing but ... let's carry on, shall we?

On this edition of Eat My Shorts, I've decided to highlight all five finalists (because they're now available online), and urge you to vote for your favorite. The nice thing about their voting process is that it asks you to award stars (as low as 1 and as high as 4) to each film, instead of simply asking you to choose one. It's better that way because three of them I absolutely loved, and so I wanted to vote for all of them, not just one.

Before we get to the movies, I always like to ask that if anyone knows of any super cool shorts they'd like to see featured in a future edition of the widely popular Eat My Shorts, feel free to send all links, tips and suggestions to shorts AT cinematical DOT com. Okay, now let's go watch some shorts ...

Note: Since each film does not have its own individual link, here is where you can find all five. Oh, and here is where you can find out more information about the contest.

  • Dragon -- This short is simply beautiful to look at -- the animation is some of the best I've seen in a long time and the original music, coupled with a somewhat dark and twisted story, are all top notch. For my money, this is the winner of the competition, hands down. However, when you have an audience who might be more inclined to vote for a topic and a presentation that's a bit more commercial, then there's a fairly good chance Dragon will not come out victorious. The story follows a little girl who finds it comforting to lock herself away in a room and draw sweet pictures following the death of her parents in a fire. When she's brought to an orphanage and the man in charge discovers that he can make a profit off these pictures, money and attention begin pouring in -- not for her, but for him. Yet, he'll be sorry he ever took advantage when one of her pictures takes on a life of its own. Watch out for director Troy Morgan -- this film is too good for him not to show up sooner or later with something even better.
  • High Maintenance -- Haven't you always wished you could trade in your significant other for a better model? Directed by Phillip Van, High Maintenance takes a look at one woman who is sick and tired of her boring husband, and so she decides to shut him off and call for an upgrade. She wants someone a little more "sporty" -- someone spontaneous and not as dull. But will her new lover be all that she wants and more, or will he turn out to be just like every other guy? Shot well, the story is a unique one that definitely has some legs -- I could see this premise stretched out into a feature, but what Van does here is just as good.
  • Still Life -- Directed by Jon Knautz, you might remember Still Life from a previous edition of Eat My Shorts. That's because we've already covered it -- but what a pleasant surprise it was to see it was chosen as one of the five finalists in this competition. Aside from Dragon (which was my personal favorite of the bunch), Still Life is way up there as one of the best shorts I've watched this year. Basically, some dude is on a long road trip, sleepy as all hell, when he realizes that he needs to fill up the gas tank. Next thing you know he stumbles into a town where everyone is a mannequin. Yes, and then it gets freaky.
  • The Test -- After watching the three fantastic shorts mentioned above, I was somewhat surprised to see this one wedged in there. Then again, I can understand why it made it to the top five -- for its down-to-earth humor. There always has to be the one film that doesn't make you think ... The Test is that film. Short follows one couple and their immediate reactions to a positive pregnancy test. It's funny. It's cute. It's easy to follow. However, it's definitely not the best out of the bunch -- but could wind up with the most votes because it's the most relatable. The production quality isn't great, the sound is too low and I feel as if I've seen this sketch acted out prior to watching this film. Oh well. You be the judge.
  • Tranquil Music -- What's essentially a very pretty film, Tranquil Music follows a New York City DJ around for a day as he tell us why he loves music so much, what it means to live in NYC and how those two passions blend into one. The shots are nice, the original music is, well, tranquil and it's the perfect film to watch right before you go to sleep. The narrator's voice, together with the music and pretty scenery, is somewhat slow and definitely not what you would expect from a film about a popular NYC DJ. Then again, that's what's great about it ... if you make it through to the end without closing your eyes.

That's all for me, folks. Remember to rate each film and do come back here to let me know which short (or shorts) you liked the best.

Cheers!