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San Sebastian celebrates U.S. comedy

Spanish fest tips hat to Films in Progress

PARIS — “Dude, Where’s My Car?,” “Napoleon Dynamite” and “The Hangover” will screen in the 60th San Sebastian festival’s showcase Very Funny Things: New American Comedy.

The 30-pic panorama takes in pioneer gross-outs, such as “Animal House” and “Porky’s,” plus loser laffers with a social underbelly: “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “The Hangover.”

Also making the cut are upscale cineastes such as Richard Linklater (“Dazed and Confused”), Paul Thomas-Anderson (“Punch-Drunk Love”), Wes Anderson (“Rushmore”), David Gordon Green (“Pineapple Express”) and Gregg Araki (“Smiley Face”).

Very Funny Things bears witness to the rising critical cachet of modern U.S. comedy, plus its burgeoning B.O. abroad.

Directors who San Sebastian dubs “comedy auteurs” include Peter Farrelly, Judd Apatow, Todd Phillips, Jared Hess, Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell, among a long talent roll.

Running Sept. 21-29, San Sebastian will also tip its hat to the first 10 years of the jewel in its industry-events crown, Films in Progress, a joint initiative of San Sebastian and Toulouse’s Rencontres Cinemas d’Amerique Latine.

A pix-in-post competition for Latin American movies seeking completion finance, Films in Progress has led to co-financing on multiple Latin American standouts.

It has also pointed up notable new talent — Marcelo Gomes’ “Cinema, Aspirin and Vultures” and Federico Veiroj’s “The Useful Life” — underscored trends, such as the rise of femme helmers in Argentina, and sneak-peeked pics that went on to major kudos recognition — Sebastian Silva’s Golden Globe-nommed “The Maid” — or swathes of sales, such as Natalia Smirnoff’s Memento-sold “Puzzle.”

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