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New Jack Black, Sarah Silverman Films to Premiere at Sundance

The festival’s 2015 competition lineup includes several comedians taking on serious roles and the long-awaited adaptation of the sci-fi classic ‘Z for Zacariah’

'Z for Zachariah'

Chris Pine, Margot Robbie and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 'Z for Zachariah.'

A high school loser trying to reinvent himself before his 20th reunion, a housewife on a drug-fueled tailspin and three apocalypse survivors in one very complicated love triangle — these are just three of the dozens of movies set to screen at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, which announced its lineup for the Dramatic and Documentary competitions, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Jack Black stars as that aforementioned loser in The D Train, while Sarah Silverman will play the out-of-control mother in I Smile Back. Both entries, as Sundance Film Festival director John Cooper points out, are indicative of an interesting trend already emerging at this year’s festival: Not only are there more comedies competing in the U.S. dramatic category, but more comedians taking on dramatic roles.

“[Silverman] crushes it in a very intense role,” Cooper said. “People will really be impressed by her acting abilities. And though D Train has comedic elements, Jack Black pushes it in an interesting way. Both of them will get a lot of acclaim.”

Not that Sundance 2015 won’t have its share of serious fare. In Craig Zobel’s adaptation of Robert C. O’Brien’s post-apocalyptic classic Z for Zachariah, the last two men on Earth (played by Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor) fight for the affections of the last woman on Earth, played by Margot Robbie. Songs My Brothers Taught Me tells the story of two siblings living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, while The Stanford Prison Experiment is a dramatic retelling of the infamous, groundbreaking 1971 social experiment.

Other films likely to capture some buzz this year include The Bronze, in which The Big Bang Theory‘s Melissa Rauch (who also co-wrote the film) plays a former Olympic medalist threatened by a promising young gymnast; Dope, which tells the story of a geeky student at a rough Los Angeles high school who suddenly gets the chance to become popular (the film features rapper A$AP Rocky); and The Diary of a Teenage Girl, a peculiar coming-of-age story about a 15-year old in 1970s San Francisco who is sleeping with the boyfriend of her own mother (played by Kristen Wiig).

Among the documentaries selected for Sundance are 3½ Minutes, which examines the shooting of unarmed 17-year-old Jordan Russell Davis at a Florida gas station; Being Evel, a portrait of legendary daredevil Robert “Evel” Knievel; and — in the World Documentary competition — Chuck Norris vs Communism, which looks at how a slew of Western films helped introduce the free world to those living behind the iron curtain in the 1980s.

A full run down of films screening in the U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary competitions, as well as the selections for this year’s out of competition NEXT category, are available on the Sundance website. More films and premieres will be announced in the coming weeks. This year’s Sundance Film Festival will take place between January 22nd and February 1st in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah

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