Films get focus at Comedy Fest

Stewart Oksenhorn
A reunion of cast members from the 1996 film "Swingers" will be part of the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen. (Miramax)

Next month’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen will feature a 10th anniversary reunion of the cast of “Swingers,” director Doug Liman’s 1996 film about single life in Los Angeles, as well as six world premieres in the festival’s Film Discovery Program.

The 12th annual USCAF is set for March 8-12 in various Aspen locations.

Actors Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn and Ron Livingston will reunite to reminisce about “Swingers,” the comedy that ushered in an era of martini lounges and swing music. David Wild, host of the Bravo TV series “Musicians,” and author of “Seinfeld: The Totally Unauthorized Tribute,” will moderate the event.

Leading the slate of world premiere film presentations is “Behind the Smile,” a drama set in the world of stand-up comedy, financed, written, directed and produced by, and starring, Damon Wayans. The film, which also features Jim Belushi, Marlon Wayans, Camryn Manheim and Mike Binder, stars Wayans as Danny Styles, a comic who has quick success in Los Angeles but is soon brought down by the fast-lane lifestyle.

Also having their world premieres are: “,” a satire of reality TV featuring Beau Bridges, Rosanna Arquette, Dan Castellaneta and Garry Marshall; “Bickford Shmeckler’s Cool Ideas,” starring Patrick Fugit as a college freshman who loses his journal of bright ideas; “Funny Money,” starring Chevy Chase and Penelope Ann Miller; “Shut Up and Sing,” about the 15-year reunion of the members of a college a cappella group; and “Unbeatable Harold,” a romance between a wannabe Elvis and the best waitress in the West.

The Film Discovery Program will also include special screenings of Paul Weitz’s “American Dreamz,” a satire built on a popular singing contest; “A Prairie Home Companion,” Robert Altman’s drama based on the backstage goings-on at the popular radio program; and “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party,” a sketch and musical comedy directed by Michael Gondry.

Other notable feature films in the program include: “Art School Confidential,” directed by Terry Zwigoff; “Thank You for Smoking,” a satirical comedy about the tobacco industry; “Kinky Boots,” a British film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as a drag singer; and “Friends with Money,” starring Jennifer Aniston, Joan Cusack and Catherine Keener. Documentaries include “a/k/a Tommy Chong,” and “Souvenir of Canada,” based on the Douglas Coupland book.

In all, the Film Discovery Program includes screenings of 24 feature-length films, 24 shorts, and special events such as the Fireside Chat Series and the Film Jury Awards.

Previously announced events at the 2006 USCAF include the presentation of the AFI Star Award to Goldie Hawn; a celebration of the TV series “The Larry Sanders Show”; a special presentation of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion”; a career tribute to TV director and producer James Burrows; and a 15th anniversary salute to “Def Comedy Jam.”

For ticket packages and further information on the USCAF, go to, or call (866) 350-3369.

Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is


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