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Like college, Sundance is a safe haven, a place of camaraderie and mentoring before graduates have to head into the real world _ in the case of filmmakers, before they have to cope with the business side of show business.

“Sundance is right before the scary stuff starts. The judgment and the reviews and the forums, all that silly stuff,” Bell said. “It’s the purity before the storm.”

Festival director John Cooper jokes that he would not mind a real storm _ something to maintain that purity and keep the real world from intruding on the little bubble of creative expression that is Sundance.

“I hope we all do get snowed in,” Cooper said.