Dear Sundance: These bons mots are for hire

With a wardrobe ranging from silk to suede, I'll add cinephiliac savvy to this year's festival.

Kenneth H. Cleaver
December 9, 2000 1:30AM (UTC)

October 11, 2000

Dear Sundance Film Festival:

To borrow from Somerset Maugham, I am a person "of no social consequence." I say this not out of a desire for pity, but as a realistic assessment of my sphere of influence in the world of independent cinema. As film festivals have become ubiquitous, status and distinction have become increasingly important. Though unknown in the industry, my cinephiliac savvy, cultural lucidity and overall insufferability will help maintain Sundance's status as the country's elite film festival.


In exchange for passes, accommodations and a modest per diem, I will occupy the role of hipster in paradise. My aura ranges from sullen to sassy, my wardrobe from silk to suede. The following statements exemplify my aptitude for instilling a buzz.

"Not since Ed Burns has the American cinema witnessed such unbridled auterism!"

"This is so much better than Cannes: Everyone here speaks English!"

"Now THAT is a progressive mocha!"

"Parker Posey, salt of the earth."

"Have you seen ______? It's reminiscent of Kevin Smith, but without the mise-en-scène."

While I would prefer to work for Sundance, I will soon be courting other offers. Trust me when I say that you want Kenneth Cleaver on your team.


Yours truly,
Kenneth H. Cleaver

Sundance Institute responds

October 31, 2000

Dear Mr. Cleaver,

This letter is to confirm receiving your letter indicating you are interested in volunteering for the Sundance Film Festival 2001. Your request was forwarded to the Volunteer Department. You will be receiving information on the volunteer process in the mail.

Thank you for your interest in the Sundance Film Festival 2001.


Patti Timm
Human Resources Manager
Sundance Institute

November 15, 2000

Dear Ms. Timm,

I am in receipt of your letter of October 31st as well as the application forwarded to me by the Volunteer Department. Thank you. Unfortunately, there has been a mistake on the part of the festival regarding my original letter, of which I have enclosed a copy.


Volunteerism is an important aspect of our society. Volunteering at the Sundance Film Festival is an exciting opportunity for drooling hordes of undergraduate film students. However, Ms. Timm, I am a professional. Would the Coen brothers ask Steve Buscemi to "volunteer" for one of their films? Would John Sayles ask cinematographer Haskell Wexler to shoot for his new film for a few extra pop tarts from the craft service table? Are you running the Sundance Film Festival or a soup kitchen?

I am trained to release quips. They are strategically designed and delivered to influence players in the world of independent cinema. I am human ambience. While I readily accept Sundance's decision to employ or pass on my services, I take great umbrage with the suggestion that I would offer them without a signed legal guarantee of remuneration.



Kenneth H. Cleaver

Sundance Institute responds:

November 22, 2000

Dear Kenneth,

I have received your letter indicating you are not interested in volunteer opportunities with the Sundance Film Festival 2001. Sundance Institute is a not-for-profit arts organization that relies heavily on the service of approximately 1,000 volunteers. The film festival could not happen without the services of our volunteers.


We currently do not have an employment opportunity that requires your skills.

Thank you for your interest in Sundance.

Patti Timm
Human Resources Manager
Sundance Institute

Kenneth H. Cleaver

MORE FROM Kenneth H. Cleaver

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