From Wile E. Coyote to Itchy and Scratchy, America’s cartoon animals know that nothing makes the child inside smile quite like watching something furry meet a violent end. A program of nine cartoon shorts—eight of them Oscar-nominated—presented by the Embassy of Canada reminds us that things are tough all over for animated critters: “Evolution” presents Darwin’s theory as survival of the cutest, with trumpet-nosed, tank-treaded, antennaed creatures cutely procreating, then cutely eating each other. In “The Cat Came Back,” a tiny feline exasperates a bug-eyed man to death, then follows him into the afterlife to pester some more. And in “The Sand Castle,” the most transfixing of the shorts, stop-motion sand creatures fashion a habitat and some friends from sand, but then everything blows away. View a cute but cruel world at 10 a.m. at Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda. $4. (301) 280-1660. (Josh Levin)

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