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I always assumed director Richard Lester was English. From the Beatles’ A Hard Days Night to The Knack…and How to Get It (from which the later Beatlesque band took its name), his work just seems so British. His debut even featured Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers. But it turns out Lester was born in Philadelphia. And he returned to his native country to film Petulia. With appearances by the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin as well as local theater group the Committee (including a very young Howard Hesseman), his 1968 classic is infused with the spirit of Flower Child San Francisco, much as Blowup is with Swinging London and You’re a Big Boy Now with Hip New York. Showcasing Lester’s fragmented, ad-derived style, Petulia offers testimony to the tragedy of this English (in language if not nationality) Godard’s becoming a sequel man who cloned everything from Superman to his own Musketeers. Petulia is screened tonight at 7 p.m. at the Library of Congress’ Pickford Theater, 1st and Independence Avenue SE. Free. For reservations call (202) 707-5677. (Mark W. Sullivan)