Clinton St. TheaterThe Third Annual Forest Film Fest (FFF) hits again this year, renting out the Clinton St. Theater to show a ton of short films. In addition to their nebulous declaration that the FFF is "Supporting Filmmakers!," the FFF's other tagline is "56 Short Films that Had to be Made." While a statement as vague as "Supporting Filmmakers!" is hard to argue with, it's easy to take umbrage with that other line—after sampling each of the fest's programs (see forestfilm.com), it's obvious that many of the FFF's films didn't have to be made.

With films that range in length from 90 seconds to 30 minutes, the FFF has never managed to gel as an entity—largely because its programming is so scattershot. With two "Short Documentary" programs, two "Student Short Fiction" programs, three "Short Fiction" programs, a "Short Animation" program, and 2005's winning films (plus a showing of this year's winners) the four-day fest has two to three programs a night—so chances are, you'll catch something you'll like in the slew of films.

But the FFF suffers from its lack of focus; other than "short," there's little consistency here. (Even in the fest's best program, "Short Animation," the quality of the selections varies wildly, sometimes even within the films themselves.) More damningly, there's not one must-see film in the lot—while the FFF provides no small number of films, viewers will be hard pressed to find one clear, full-out winner.

Still, if there's one thing the FFF proves, it's that it's hard to vehemently dislike any short film—even the bad ones are polite enough to wrap up before too much vitriol can be spewed. Unfortunately, that goes both ways—in a fest as uneven as this one, it's also pretty impossible to summon much enthusiasm.