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It’s not easy being the little guy: You’re always getting butted in front of in the lunch line, pushed around in the locker room, and picked last in gym. One would think that the film community—which is almost entirely composed of former sci-fi and comic-book geeks who had their asses handed to them on a regular basis in junior high—would have a more compassionate understanding of the short, given the bullying the genre has received at the hands of the almighty feature film. But, according to local filmmaker Jon Gann, shorts have yet to receive their due. “Of the dozens of film festivals I have attended around the world, only a handful showed respect and appreciation to shorts filmmakers,” Gann says. “Many festivals, including so-called independent-friendly ones, have turned into corporate PR events, only screening films with commercial possibilities.” So, in the interest of keeping it real, Gann and collaborator Gene Cowan have organized the D.C. Shorts Film Festival, featuring 36 films from both inside and outside the Beltway. Though the six categories that the films are broken down into are virtually indistinguishable, each of the three programs include shorts covering a variety of topics, ranging from the more traditional (politics, relationships, homelessness) to the not-so-much (door-to-door pencil salesmen, nut allergies). Highlights of the festival’s batch of local entries include Gann and Cowan’s Signs (pictured), winner of this year’s 48 Hour Film Project, which follows the street-sign-influenced journey of a self-absorbed city boy along 7th Street NW, and Someone & Someone, Inc., Rohit Colin Rao’s satire of the American corporate environment. Size up the kings of the movie midgets when the festival opens Friday, Sept. 10, and runs through Saturday, Sept. 11 (see Showtimes for a full schedule), at Flashpoint, 916 G St. NW. $12. (202) 393-4266. www.dcshorts.com. (Matthew Borlik)