LOS ANGELES (AP) — Films in next month's Sundance Film Festival's competitive categories feature such stars as Sarah Silverman, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nicole Kidman.
Festival organizers revealed the slate of films Wednesday by American and international directors that will be in competition at the independent-film showcase, which runs Jan. 22-31.
Silverman shows her dramatic side as a mom falling apart in the U.S. film "I Smile Back." Fassbender appears in a drama from New Zealand called "Slow West." Ejiofor and Pine share the screen in the American tale "Z for Zachariah." Kidman stars in the Australian film "Strangerland," set to play on the festival's opening day.
Other familiar faces among the 16 narrative films in the U.S. competition include Jack Black, Saoirse Ronan, Cobie Smulders, Cynthia Nixon and Alexander Skarsgard.
"There's a real intensity that is permeating independent filmmaking these days," said festival director John Cooper. "Whether it's the pure entertainment, the comedies and romances being so engaging; whether it's documentaries that will enrage you and sometimes call to action. Even in the deep dramatic films, we've found there's a real concerted effort to look at empathy for dark subjects and the characters in them."
American documentaries in competition explore such subjects as the amateur porn industry, Mexican drug cartels, endangered animals, Evel Knievel and the 2012 shooting of unarmed black teenager Jordan Russell Davis.
Cooper said he expects viewers are "going to have a very wild ride of emotional extremes."
Films that compete at the Sundance Film Festival are world premieres but may not reach local theaters for months. 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 streamed on the Sundance website.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .