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Arts and Entertainment News, Nov. 1 

After an award-winning festival tour, Little Rock native Jeff Nichols will debut his feature film “Shotgun Stories” on Dec. 14 at Market Street Cinema. The film, shot in and around Pulaski and Lonoke counties, tracks a feud between two sets of half-brothers following their father's death. It'll be the movie's national theatrical debut and precede a broader release next spring and a late summer DVD release. The Sundance Channel has also picked up the film to show it in 2009.

Last month, the feature won the grand jury prize at the Austin Film Festival and, in June, “Shotgun Stories” won the New American Cinema prize at the Seattle Film Festival. Those prizes preceded a good deal of critical acclaim surrounding showings at the Berlin and Tribeca film festivals.

Michael Shannon, who's been in dozens of big budget films and, most recently, “Bug” with Ashley Judd, stars in the film as Son Harris, and Alan Disaster, of Smoke Up Johnny, plays a meth dealer, who also doubles as the story's Greek chorus.

Look for an after-party following the premiere to feature performances by Smoke Up Johnny and Jeff's brother Ben Nichols and possibly his band Lucero.

Marvell native Levon Helm released his first solo album in 25 years earlier this week. Helm, who was told he wouldn't sing again after a 1998 bout with throat cancer, gives a strong, if grizzled, reading of five traditional songs and eight covers of songs by the likes of Steve Earle and A.P. Carter on “Dirt Farmer” (Vanguard). The former drummer for the Band teams with multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell and Amy Helm, Levon's daughter and a member of the Americana outfit Ollabelle.

The Munks, the local five-piece, have sent their forthcoming sophomore CD to be pressed. The band expects “Sing Dirty Songs” to get back to them within the next two weeks, at which time the group will start selling the album. A release party will follow shortly, drummer Brooks Browning promises, and in November, the Lenny Bryan-produced release will be available on iTunes.

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