State of the Arts
The Burlington Book Festival  has found its new headliners to replace the late Frank McCourt: Amy and David Goodman . The journalist host of progressive news show “Democracy Now!”  (on Air America) and her brother have coauthored three New York Times bestsellers that read deep into the post-9/11 U.S. cultural landscape: The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them  (2004); Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back  (2006); and Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times  (2008).
Amy Goodman is known for on-the-street journalism: Last September she was arrested while covering protests at the Republican National Convention. David Goodman lives in central Vermont, and his globe-trotting sister is no stranger to the state: She delivered the keynote address for the state’s “Big Read” program in January and spoke at the Human Rights Film Festival at Waitsfield’s Big Picture Theater  in 2008. The siblings should impart some free-speech fervor to Burlington’s annual celebration of the written word.
In other lit news, a Pulitzer winner — Richard Russo , the New York-based author of Empire Falls  and other acclaimed novels — comes to Vermont College of Fine Arts  on August 7. He’ll read from his new book, That Old Cape Magic , a contemplative novel about family, failure and reminiscence.
Heading south this weekend? Kristen Kaza , a native Vermonter who grew up in Shelburne and graduated from CVU, reports that a documentary she produced, Fish Out of Water , will play the Rhode Island International Film Festival  on Saturday, August 8. Directed by Ky Dickens, with a score by Kaki King, the film delves into the gay-marriage debate with a skeptical look at the biblical passages used to condemn homosexuality. It premiered at Los Angeles’ Outfest last month.
Speaking of GLBT themes on screen, Upper Valley Arts  just received $1000 from the Samara Foundation of Vermont  to help fund the production of “Why Vermont?” a segment of Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie , the ongoing collaborative mega-project coordinated by Norwich filmmaker Nora Jacobson . “Why Vermont?” examines “the story of gay culture and activism in Vermont ... through the prism of the life of Ron Squires ,” the Guilford state rep who fought successfully for Vermont’s law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; he died of complications from AIDS in 1993. Sounds like a chapter in state history that deserves to be remembered.