Rotten Tomatoes has joined Sundance Institute’s new Press Inclusion Initiative, which will kick off its inaugural year by offering stipends to assist with travel and lodging costs for more than 50 freelance critics and journalists attending the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Earlier this year, the Sundance Institute committed to allocating a minimum of 20 percent of the festival’s top-tier press credentials to critics from underrepresented communities, including women, people of color, LGBTQIA+, and people with disabilities.
Rotten Tomatoes will contribute $25,000 to the Sundance Press Inclusion Initiative as part of its $100,000 grant program, which was established earlier this year to help critics gain access to key film festivals. Over the next year, Rotten Tomatoes will also provide grants to organizations that help critics with travel expenses associated with festival attendance.
“Rotten Tomatoes is proud to be supporting Sundance Institute’s efforts to ensure that a diverse and inclusive group of critics and journalists will have access to the films premiering at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival,” said Jenny Jediny, Rotten Tomatoes critic relations manager, in an official statement. “We will be working closely with Sundance Institute to vet their newly credentialed critics for Tomatometer approval prior to the start of the festival.”
In August, Rotten Tomatoes debuted new criteria for its Tomatometer rating system, which allowed for more than 350 new critics to be added to the platform. The new guidelines focus more on the merits of individual critics than of publications. The site also expanded its definition of reviews to include podcasts and video reviews.
After a recent study by USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that only 22.2 percent of 2017 reviews for the top-grossing films were written by women, while critics from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds represented only 18 percent, the popular critical platform enacted new steps to ensure that the site housed a variety of voices.
In June of this year, announcements from both the Toronto and Sundance festivals pledged to increase underrepresented critical voices at their festivals by 20 percent. In August, Rotten Tomatoes also announced that its just-created grant program would contribute $25,000 to the American Friends of TIFF fund for the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
This year’s Sundance Film festival runs January 24 – February 3 in Park City, Utah.