Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez, James Franco, Ewan McGregor, Greta Gerwig, Jesse Eisenberg, Saoirse Ronan, Ryan Reynolds, Peter Sarsgaard and Lily Tomlin — as well as directors Noah Baumbach, Michael Almereyda, Rodrigo Garcia, James Ponsoldt, Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman — are among the big names in the Premieres lineup at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, unveiled today along with Documentary Premieres and a new Special Events section.

Festival director John Cooper noted that while this year’s 16 Premieres selections will be among the buzziest, most commercial titles in Park City, “they’re not without an independent feel to them, and that’s what I’m always looking for. There is a very independent spirit behind these films.”

By way of example, Cooper cited “Last Days in the Desert,” a description-resistant foray into father-son territory from Garcia, a director known for his stories about women (“Nine Lives,” “Mother and Child”); John Crowley’s “Brooklyn,” an unusually romantic drama starring Ronan as an Irish-American immigrant; and “Ten Thousand Saints,” Pulcini and Springer Berman’s ’80s-set drama about the challenges of parenting in the modern world, a particularly common theme for today’s independent filmmakers.

A particularly provocative-sounding entry is “I Am Michael,” Justin Kelly’s drama starring James Franco as Michael Glatze, a former journalist and gay-rights advocate who renounced his homosexuality and became a conservative Christian minister. It’s joined in Premieres by another film that tackles evangelical Christianity, Jared Hess’ Utah-set comedy, “Don Verdean.”


The 16 films in this section are world premieres, and are from the U.S. unless otherwise noted.

“I Am Michael” (Director: Justin Kelly, Screenwriters: Justin Kelly, Stacey Miller) — The controversial true story of a gay activist who rejects his homosexuality and becomes a Christian pastor. Cast: James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts.