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State of the Arts: Garrison Keillor, Champlain Valley Fair Concert Series, Martin Guigui, Jay Craven, Howard Frank Mosher, David Budbill, Lost Nation Theater

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How to get the highbrow crowd to the fair? Hire Garrison Keillor. That's exactly what the Champlain Valley Fair Concert Series has done. "A Prairie Home Companion" will be broadcast live on opening day, August 23, 2008, for National Public Radio from the fairgrounds in Essex Junction. The popular humorist will be sponsored by Vermont Public Radio, which airs his show at 6 p.m. Saturdays, and again Sundays at 11 a.m. Tickets go on sale December 17 at www.flynntix.org. . .

On December 14, the Roxy opens Darfur Now, an award-winning doc in which actor/activist Don Cheadle talks viewers through a harrowing account of the genocide in Sudan. The film, which The New York Times praised as a "quiet, methodical call to action," was directed by Ted Braun, a University of Southern California film prof who grew up in Charlotte. Braun will be at the 7:15 and 9:15 p.m. screenings, along with Adam Sterling, a young activist who helped persuade the California legislature - and Ah-nold - to divest from Sudan. A portion of first-night proceeds goes to the UVM chapter of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, which is currently raising funds for the Genocide Intervention Project's Civilian Protection program. . .

Two filmmakers originally from Vermont bring the fruits of their labors to Merrill's Roxy Cinemas this week. On December 13, Martin Guigui shows up to answer questions at a 4:15 p.m. screening of his new movie, Benny Bliss and the Disciples of Greatness. The comedy features a "soulful musician" who "embark[s] on a mission to rid the planet of all electronic gadgets." Benny is played by Courtney Gains, perhaps best known for his turn as Malachai in Children of the Corn. With Guigui, Corey Britz and Michael Hateley, a.k.a. the Disciples, he'll be offering "high-potency rockin' soul" that night at Higher Ground at 8:30 p.m. The $10 Roxy screening benefits the Vermont Film Commission.

Attention, holiday shoppers - for those of you who like local and have cinephiles on your list, here's a convenient confluence: Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven has just released his latest, Disappearances, on DVD. Based on a book by Vermont author Howard Frank Mosher, it's a tale of Prohibition-era whiskey runners on the Vermont-Canada border. Look for it in local book and video stores, or at www.DisappearancesMovie.com. And David Budbill's North Country saga Judevine - that is, a filmed version of Lost Nation Theater's spring 2007 production - is now out on DVD as well. Visit www.davidbudbill.com/judedvd.html for ordering info.

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