Chicago International Animation Festival, program one

Leaving aside a few commercial entries that demonstrate only slick technique (e.g., a TV ad for a toenail-infection remedy), most of these 17 shorts convey impressive ideas. Using branching woodcutlike lines, Hammer Rall's The Erl-King brings to life the Goethe poem about a boy's terrifying nocturnal horseback ride through haunted woods. Also inventively stylized is Aaron Augenblick's Plugs McGinnis, Seeing Eye Dog, the story of a randy pooch leading his clueless master to a strip club depicted in a motley patchwork of swatches. David Chai's witty 25 Ways to Die is a mordant inventory of improbable demises: in “Death by Salmon” a spawning fish leaps upstream into the victim's urethra. Transition Waltz by Joseph A. Davis is a layered reverie in which a woman slips between her workaday life and her jazzy imagination. 145 min.

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