Sundance 2015 lands Scientology, Kurt Cobain and campus rape documentary premieres

Kurt Cobain, Nina Simone and Tig Notaro are among the big names getting documentary treatment at this January's Sundance Film Festival.

On Monday (December 8), Sundance announced 13 documentaries that will be premiering out of competition at the Festival, which runs from January 22 to February 1 in Park City. It's a group of films from some of documentary cinema's biggest names and, unsurprisingly, from some of Sundance's most frequent attendees.

Sundance regular Liz Garbus (“The Farm: Angola, USA”) is taking the previously vacant US documentary Day One Film slot with “What Happened, Miss Simone?” The documentary looks singer and activist Nina Simone was recently acquired by Netflix, which had “Mitt” in an out-of-competition slot at last year's Festival.

Also coming from a Sundance favorite and also with TV distribution already in place is HBO's “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,” an authorized biopic of the Nirvana frontman that features Frances Bean Cobain as an executive producer and is directed by Brett Morgen (“The Kid Stays in the Picture”).

It practically wouldn't be Sundance without a film from Alex Gibney and the Oscar winner is bringing “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” which focuses on eight former members of the Church of Scientology. [According to IMDB, Gibney has only had three documentaries at Sundance, but that seems wrong.]

Also tackling the religious fringe, and sure to generate controversy in Utah, is Amy Berg's “Prophet's Prey,” focusing on Warren Jeffs, prophet in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Berg, an Oscar nominee for “Deliver Us From Evil,” was at Sundance with “West of Memphis” in 2012.

Institutional struggles are also at the heart of Kirby Dick's “The Hunting Ground,” which takes on the couldn't-be-more-timely topic of rape crimes on American college campuses. Even without the UVA/Rolling Stone scandal in the news, it'd be easy to anticipate outrage brewing around Dick's follow-up to “The Invisible War.”

“Mitt” was mentioned above and director Greg Whiteley is back at Sundance with “Most Likely To Succeed,” which looks at failures in 21st century education.