“These aren’t just biopics,” Mr. Cooper said. “These are studies of struggles and artistic freedom they took for themselves. I think that’s kind of a theme that we saw. How these people came into our lives really and why.”
Along with Mr. Elba, a number of prominent actors will be attending as directors. Ethan Hawke is bringing “Blaze,” a biopic about the country music legend Blaze Foley, and Paul Dano has “Wildlife,” based on the 1990 novel by Richard Ford, about a 1960s Montana family in crisis.
While there are fewer inherently political films than usual, “Our New President,” a comic documentary from Maxim Pozdorovkin, dives into Mr. Trump’s elevation to the White House through the lens of fake news and Russian propaganda.
The festival gets underway Jan. 18 in Park City, Utah. For the complete lineup, go to sundance.org/festival. Here are six films to watch for:
The Catcher Was a Spy
Director: Ben Lewin
Written by Robert Rodat (“Saving Private Ryan”), this tells the true story of Moe Berg (Paul Rudd), a catcher for the White Sox, among other teams, who was also a spy for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. He eventually helped the United States beat Germany in the race to build the atomic bomb. The film also stars Mark Strong, Sienna Miller, Jeff Daniels and Paul Giamatti.
Directors: Sophie Sartain, Roberta Grossman
With the national conversation dominated by accusations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against powerful men, this film, screening in the U.S. documentary competition category, is particularly timely. It looks at Ms. Allred and her clashes with Bill Cosby and Mr. Trump when he was running for president. Just this month, Ms. Allred represented an accuser of the Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Directors: Betsy West, Julie Cohen
In a rare peek behind the curtain of the Supreme Court, Ms. West and Ms. Cohen examine the career of Justice Ginsburg, who openly mocked Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign and has herself become an internet meme, as the Notorious RBG. “I love that it points out some of her eccentricities,” Mr. Cooper said of the film.
Director: Carlos Lopez Estrada
Co-written by and starring Daveed Diggs, of “Hamilton” and “black-ish” fame, and Rafael Casal, this is a somewhat self-referential buddy comedy about growing up in Oakland.
Director: Laura Nix
Another climate-change-themed film, this documentary follows high school scientists around the world as they prepare for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. According to Sundance, the film examines the students’ quest to “face the planet‘s environmental threats while navigating adolescence.”
Director: Idris Elba
Mr. Elba’s debut film is set in early 1970s Jamaica and based on a 1992 novel by Victor Headley. The story centers on a young boy named D, who witnesses the murder of his brother and eventually moves to London to build a drug empire.