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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Vermonters! Cross the Lake to See Some Movies in Plattsburgh

Posted By on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 9:10 AM

The Strand Theater, mid-renovation - SEVEN DAYS FILE PHOTO
  • Seven Days File Photo
  • The Strand Theater, mid-renovation
This is a historic week for the arts and film community in Plattsburgh, N.Y. The city's downtown picture palace, the Strand Center for the Arts, has installed state-of-the-art digital projection equipment just in time to welcome the inaugural Lake Champlain Film Festival.

With partial funding from a $78,000 grant from the New York State Council for the Arts, the Strand, which was built as a vaudeville theater in 1924, has installed a digital projection system, a new 16-by-32-foot screen and a surround-sound system.

The new gear will amaze festival attendees as they feast upon a weekend-long program of films of all kinds. Screening at the Strand on Saturday, November 15, and Sunday, November 16, they include features by local filmmakers and short films from around the world.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Vermont Science Writer David Dobbs Wins Journalism Award

Posted By on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Science writer David Dobbs - COURTESY OF DAVID DOBBS
  • Courtesy of David Dobbs
  • Science writer David Dobbs
Montpelier's David Dobbs, a science writer whom Seven Days profiled in June 2014, has won a prestigious Kavli Science Journalism award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his 2013 essay "The Social Life of Genes." Dobbs won for the "magazine" category; other prizes were awarded to science journalism in print, on television and radio, and online. The awards were announced on November 6.

Funded by and named for the Kavli Foundation — a trust dedicated to "advancing science for the benefit of humanity" — the award consists of a $3,000 prize that Dobbs will collect at the AAAS conference in San Jose in February 2015. Founded more than 150 years ago, the AAAS is one of the oldest and most respected of all American science foundations; the organization also publishes the journal Science.

"The Social Life of Genes," which was originally published in the journal Pacific Standard, investigates the ways in which organisms' social environments affect the expressions of their genes. In its treatment of genetics as a branch of social science, the essay suggests new and controversial avenues for the study of heredity.

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A Cinematic Avalanche to Hit Burlington This Week

Posted By on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Force Majeure - MAGNOLIA PICTURES
  • Magnolia Pictures
  • Force Majeure
Force Majeure, Sweden's 2014 Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film and winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the most recent Cannes Film Festival, storms its way into Burlington's Main Street Landing this week, courtesy of the Burlington Film Society.

The critically acclaimed drama, written and directed by Ruben Östlund, concerns the members of a picture-perfect Swedish family whose lives are thrown into utter turmoil when an avalanche hits the ski resort at which they're vacationing. Yet it's not so much the avalanche itself that throws their lives into chaos; rather, it's a choice made by the family patriarch that jeopardizes everything. (Revealing any more would be telling!) 

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Vermont International Film Festival Optimistic About Future

Posted By on Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Volunteers Sophia Howatt and Steve Sweeney at the info table - SAREET ROSENSTEIN | COURTESY OF VTIFF
  • Sareet Rosenstein | Courtesy of VTIFF
  • Volunteers Sophia Howatt and Steve Sweeney at the info table
Organizers haven't quite finished tallying up ticket sales, but the recently concluded 29th annual Vermont International Film Festival appears to have been a significant success. Attendance was up, and, more importantly, the festival seems to be on a path of stability and organizational sophistication.

VTIFF's executive director, Orly Yadin, reports a grand total of 4,706 admissions for the 2014 festival. That's a jump of 10 percent from the 2013 figures, which were 20 percent higher than the numbers from 2012.

"About a third" of this year's admissions, Yadin says, were technically unpaid, but that's actually a good thing. VTIFF (the acronym stands for both the festival and its parent organization, the Vermont International Film Foundation) now has about 150 members who pay at one of three levels. "Friends" and "Supporters" get discounts on festival tickets, among other perks, while "Patrons" get all-access passes with their membership payments.

Yadin is eager to attract more members, whose advance, lump-sum payments help the festival achieve greater economic constancy. "Stability is the most crucial thing for us," she says. "Until this year, all of our income had been unstable."

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PlanBTV Launches #OurSouthEnd Campaign

Posted By on Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 9:00 AM

The rhino at Conant Metal & Light - COURTESY OF NATALIE WILLIAMS
  • Courtesy of Natalie Williams
  • The rhino at Conant Metal & Light
Recognize that rhino? If you're a resident of the South End or you frequent the Pine Street corridor, chances are the answer is "yes." That sculpture protrudes from the Conant Metal & Light building year round. Sometimes seasonal decorations, such as pumpkins, are placed on its horn. 

Does the rhino make you smile?

Can you think of something else in the South End — a mural, an old strip of railway track, a reclaimed (or not) industrial building — that does? 

If so, the City of Burlington wants you to share it on social media, using the hashtag #OurSouthEnd. (And if you can't think of something that makes you smile, send pics of something you think should be changed.) The social media campaign, reads a press release, is "just one of many initiatives planned for the coming months to get community input in the planning process through creative means." 

The city is launching the #OurSouthEnd campaign with the aim of soliciting community feedback for its long-term planning effort, PlanBTV. Among other goals, PlanBTV intends to create a master plan for the development of the South End Arts District.

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

What I'm Watching: House

Posted By on Sat, Nov 8, 2014 at 9:00 AM

The return of Big Ben - NEW WORLD PICTURES
  • New World Pictures
  • The return of Big Ben
I'm always interested to revisit, as an adult, the movies that I saw a million times on cable television when I was a kid. The experience is always one of nostalgia mixed with a wide-eyed reassessment of my youthful taste in film.

A recent meandering through Netflix offerings yielded a familiar image: one that was on the poster (and the VHS box) for the 1986 horror-comedy House, a film I watched on probably a monthly basis in the late 1980s. And that cover image! A disembodied zombie hand ringing a doorbell with the accompanying text, "Ding dong. You're dead." Man, I remember that so clearly. I couldn't resist hitting PLAY immediately; fortunately, my wife, who typically isn't that interested in films like House, was too tired to put up any resistance. (She picked the next one.)

House is notable for many things, not least the website dedicated to it, which seems to have been last updated in about 2002. It's kind of awesome.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Movies You Missed: The Dirties

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 3:37 PM

click image Matt prepares to fulfill what he believes is his destiny. - PHASE 4 FILMS
  • Phase 4 Films
  • Matt prepares to fulfill what he believes is his destiny.
This week in movies you missed: Yes, there's a found-footage film about a school shooting. But it's not the sensationalist attention-grab you might expect.

What You Missed
Matt (Matt Johnson, who also directed, produced, cowrote and co-edited) and Owen (Owen Williams) are two Canadian high school students making a movie. It's called The Dirties, and it's a revenge fantasy about destroying the bullies who dog them at school.

Matt, who has a basement full of movie posters, has stuffed his debut auteur effort with swaths of dialogue from Pulp Fiction and obscurer references to films like Irreversible. Owen is happy just to go along for the ride and "shoot" prop guns.

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Charlie Frazier Receives Blues Foundation Award

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Charlie Frazier - COURTESY OF CHARLIE FRAZIER
  • Courtesy of Charlie Frazier
  • Charlie Frazier
Charlie Frazier has been keeping the blues alive in Vermont for a long, long time. Earlier this week, a Memphis-based organization, the Blues Foundation, announced it will be recognizing the veteran area radio DJ and musician with, appropriately enough, a 2015 Keeping the Blues Alive Award in Commercial Radio.

Frazier is one of 15 recipients of the annual award, which is bestowed upon individuals and organizations that have made "significant contributions to the blues." Frazier will be presented with the award at a luncheon in Memphis on January 23, during the 31st International Blues Challenge, an annual blues bash that features the final rounds of a blues music competition, as well as seminars and showcases. 

Frazier got his start in local radio on the University of Vermont station WRUV 37 years ago. For the past 23 years, he's been the host of a Sunday morning blues show on local classic rock station WIZN, "Blues for Breakfast." For that freewheeling, free-format show, Frazier lugs in his own crate of records and CDs every week.

The show also features in-studio performances and interviews with prominent blues players passing through town. These have included Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, John Mayall, Johnny Winter and Johnny Rawls, to name a few.

Additionally, Frazier is the front man and harmonica player of a band, also called Blues for Breakfast, whose mix of Grateful Dead covers and blues classics have made the band a local favorite since 1991. (Check out a video of the BFB's version of Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm" below.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Cinemania Runs Wild in Montréal

Posted By on Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Cinemania's closing night film, Party Girl - COURTESY OF CINEMANIA
  • Courtesy of Cinemania
  • Cinemania's closing night film, Party Girl
Good news for voracious local cinephiles! If, after the 10-day main course of the Vermont International Film Festival, you still find yourselves with room for cinematic dessert, drive north to Montréal's Cinemania Festival.

Cinemania's 20th anniversary event, which runs November 6-16 at the luxe Imperial Cinema in downtown Montréal, boasts 55 films (a record for the fest) from all over the world, including works by established directors as well as talented newcomers. The festival's selections place an emphasis on French and Québécois cinema — but fear not, non-Francophones: All films will be screened with English subtitles.

Film lovers might recognize the names of François Ozon, Olivier AssayasBenoît Jacquot or the Dardennes Brothers, all of whose latest films will screen at Cinemania. Also showing, among many others, is Abuse of Weakness, the latest film by the ever-controversial Catherine Breillat, a film that recently played at VTIFF.

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Democracy in Architecture: Vote for the People's Choice Award

Posted By on Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 2:53 PM


The 2013 People's Choice Award winner, a house in Sugarhill, N.H., by Smith and Vansant Architects of Norwich - COURTESY OF AIAVT
  • Courtesy of AIAVT
  • The 2013 People's Choice Award winner, a house in Sugarhill, N.H., by Smith and Vansant Architects of Norwich
Quite a few newly designed buildings have gone up around Vermont in the last year, and the Vermont chapter of AIA is asking you to tell them which one you like best. Since it would be tough to visit them all, the organization has posted photos of 38 contenders on its website. It’s time for the annual People’s Choice Award.

Among the choices are cool, modern guesthouses and residences, a “parklet” structure, chicken housing, a community action center, a country club and the AIAVT’s own Archistream – its converted Airstream trailer outfitted for mobile education about architecture. Each choice was submitted by a Vermont architect, though some of their projects are located outside the state.

Voting is open through November 10. The winner will be announced at the organization’s annual meeting and design-awards program in the Statehouse in Montpelier on December 4.

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