San Sebastian Spotlights New American Comedy

The festival will offer a retrospective dedicated to auteur comedy along with a showcase of the most important titles to emerge from its popular Films in Progress sidebar.

MADRID - With the title of "Very Funny Things. New American Comedy," this year the San Sebastian International Film Festival will dedicate one of its retrospectives to the new trends in North American comedy movies, organizers announced Wednesday, calling it "a genre of long-standing Hollywood tradition, which has enjoyed a revival in recent years with the so-called ‘auteur comedy’."

In addition, the festival has decided to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Films in Progress section with the cycle "In Progress. Ten years with Latin American cinema," showcasing some of the most important titles from the sidebar, which helps promising unfinished films with financing to a completed product and affords them a berth in the festival circuit.

These two cycles join the previously announced classic retrospective dedicated to the French filmmaker, Georges Franju.

"A new generation of directors, screenwriters, actors and comedians have become today’s reference in the genre, a style well on the way to finding followers the world over: Peter Farrelly, Judd Apatow, Todd Phillips, Jared Hess, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig, Mike Judge, Trey Parker, Matt Stone… All have increased the possibilities offered by funny films on producing an “auteur comedy” to have earned equally excellent public and critical acclaim," the festival said.

The cycle will include 30 titles demonstrating the evolution of this new comedy starting with pioneer films from the 80s, true cult movies that laid the way for the so-called gross-out comedy with its uninhibited, iconoclastic humor making myths of actors like John Belushi and Bill Murray: Animal House (1978), Meatballs (1979), Caddyshack (1980), Porky’s(1982). Films produced in the following decades continued to flog vindication of the social misfit as an emblematic character and vehicle for a peculiar look at contemporary American society with caricature overtones: Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000), Zoolander (2001), Napoleon Dynamite (2004), The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), The Hangover(2009).

There will also be important works by some of today’s big-name American moviemakers, authors who have approached comedy in some way or another: Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, 1993), Paul Thomas Anderson (Punch-Drunk Love, 2002), Wes Anderson (Rushmore, 1998), David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, 2008) and Gregg Araki (Smiley Face, 2007).

San Sebastian runs Sept. 21-29 in Spain's northern Basque region.