- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Based on the movies set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, the coming year of cinema is about comedians and coming of age.

Festival organizers announced their selections Monday of dramas and documentaries to debut at the independent film showcase, which runs Jan. 22-31.

“It really does feel like we kick off the year in film,” said the festival’s director of programming, Trevor Groth. “We’re launching all these films out there into the cinematic universe and then watching them trickle out throughout the year.”

Movies that premiere at the Sundance festival can often secure distribution deals there that will bring them to theaters, TV screens or web-streams near you.

Lily Tomlin and Blythe Danner each play women coming of age later in life, thanks to unexpected relationships in the dramas “Grandma” and “I’ll See You in My Dreams.” Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie inspire each other to grow up a decade after college graduation in “Sleeping With Other People.” Ethan Hawke heads a whole family coming of age in “Ten Thousand Saints.” Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez play grieving mothers who help each other recover in “Lila & Eve.” Ryan Reynolds is a poker player who learns from his protege in “Mississippi Grind.”

Notable documentaries premiering at the festival include “The Hunting Ground” by Kirby Dick, whose 2012 documentary about sexual assault in the military, “The Invisible War,” won the Sundance audience award that year and was nominated for an Oscar. Jennifer Siebel Newsom, whose first documentary screened at the festival in 2011, returns with an exploration of masculinity in “The Mask You Live In.” Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney shines a light on Scientology in his latest, “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.”

Two music docs are in the mix: “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” and a look at Nina Simone, called “What Happened, Miss Simone?” which is set to screen on the festival’s opening day.

Another documentary, “Tig,” explores how comedian Tig Notaro used stand-up to cope with the death of her mother, her own cancer diagnosis and the challenges of love.

Comedians have an even greater presence in the films in competition at the festival, which were announced last week. Sarah Silverman takes a dramatic turn as a drug-using, promiscuous mom on the edge in “I Smile Back.” Jack Black returns to the dramatic territory of 2011’s “Bernie” as a man struggling to shed his high-school insecurities in time for his 20th reunion in “The D Train.” Bobcat Goldthwait’s documentary, “Call Me Lucky,” looks at the life of comic Barry Crimmins.

The world premieres that screen at the Sundance Film Festival may take months to reach local theaters. But other festival programs - including a discussion of filmmaking between Robert Redford and George Lucas, and a panel featuring TV show-runners Lena Dunham, Jenji Kohan and Mindy Kaling - will be live-streamed on the Sundance website.


Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy.




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