Olympian skiers competed in runs at Park City Utah in the 2002 Winter Games. This is a good historic fact to remember when attending the annual Sundance Film Festival.

After an unseasonably warm schedule last year, the stars, movie makers and fans competing in the current gala may feel like extras in bone-chilling "The Revenant."

The steep sidewalks downtown threaten to send pedestrians into a sudden snowboarding halfpipe race downhill. The resort is blanketed with the kind of snow slopes many Minnesotans hoped Santa would deliver. And 25 degree temperatures are sharp when they arrive at 7,000 feet above sea level. In sun-suffocating gray cloud cover. All day long.

Still, snow time is showtime. I'll be spending a week here digging through the slush to see most of the best new movies before anyone else, and have coffee talk with the people who made them. (And to warm up after standing in ticket lines outdoor.)

This year's anticipated highlights include:

"The Birth of a Nation," dramatizing the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner, here played by the film's star and director Nate Parker.

"The Hollers," starring Charlie Day and Sharlto Copley in a dramedy about a family dealing with pregnancy and brain surgery. Which sounds to me like a good episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

"Goat," starring Nick Jonas(!) in a harrowing story of vicious fraternity hazing.

And "How to Tell You're a Douchebag" because it's about the complexities of dating in the Internet age, and having a great title.

On top of that there are same-sex love stories, mainstream stars on oddball roles (Daniel Radcliffe as a corpse, Viggo Mortensen as a father home-schooling his half dozen young kids), and a raft of films carrying the documentary genre in wild new directions.

Watch this space (and Twitter: @colincovert) for daily updates on what happens, might happen, and what happens to be happening. Provided I don't freeze. 

(Above photo credit: Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)