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Essential names winning playwrights 

• Three playwrights will share the 2006 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award, given to local writers: Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee for Charm School, a satirical comedy about two men attending a diversity sensitivity seminar; and Valetta Anderson for Leaving Limbo, in which a young hip-hop artist travels back in time to an African village. The two plays will be staged during Power Plays, the 2006 Essential Theatre Festival (Jan. 5-29), along with The Book of Liz, a religious comedy written by famed funny siblings David and Amy Sedaris.

• During its run of Bug, Actor's Express raised $1,100 for the New Orleans playhouse Southern Rep, which suffered water damage following Hurricane Katrina and canceled the first four shows of its 2005-'06 season. The Alliance Theatre also provided Southern Rep with temporary office space.

• "Battaglia," a short film by burgeoning filmmaker Owen Smith of Lawrenceville, was a top five finalist out more than 400 films submitted to the Amazon Theater/Tribeca Film Festival Short-Film Competition.

• Atlanta-based digital entertainment company Kaneva and Campus MovieFest, a student film event founded by Emory University students, have launched the Independence MovieFest, an online film festival that will screen shorts and feature-length dramas, comedies and documentaries. Final deadline for submission is May 15, 2006, and winners will be announced July 4.

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