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Six Festivals Pledge to Support Minority Members of the Press

Recent studies show that the overwhelming majority of film critics are white and male.

A view of a festival sign appears on day 1 of the Toronto International Film Festival, in Toronto2018 TIFF, Toronto, Canada - 06 Sep 2018

The Toronto International Film Festival

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Six film and television festivals have pledged to allot a portion of their press accreditations to minority members of the press, including women, people of color, people with disabilities, and LGTBQ, nonbinary, and transgender individuals.

The upcoming Athena Film Festival, SXSW Festival, Bentonville Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, ATX TV Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival all made the “CRITICAL Commitment,” which is part of the Time’s Up Foundation’s efforts to boost diversity among critics and entertainment journalists.

The Time’s Up Foundation’s, which was founded by Hollywood celebrities in 2018 amidst the #MeToo movement, commissioned a USC Annenberg think tank to research the demographics of film critics. The 2018 study found that an overwhelming majority of film critics were white and male.

Press applications for all of the participating festivals, excluding TIFF, are open. The Time’s Up Foundation has asked CRITICAL members interested in applying for the festivals to mention that they are part of the Critical Database in their application. TIFF media applications will open in June. The deadline for the South by Southwest festival is February 5 at 10 p.m. PST.

The Time’s Up statement did not specify the percentage of press accreditations that would be reserved for CRITICAL members and a spokesperson did not return requests for comment.

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The 2020 Sundance film Festival promoted a similar Sundance Press Inclusion Initiative to support minority critics and journalists earlier in the year.

Although entertainment companies and news publications have become more aware of such issues in recent years, many high-profile events have been criticized for catering to white, male demographics or have come under fire due to diversity-related controversies. The 2020 Oscar nominations marked one of event’s the least diverse years, while the latest Golden Globes came under fire for selecting Ricky Gervais as host, despite his history of transphobic jokes.

Several high-profile celebrities, including Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”) and horror novelist Stephen King, have recently spoken out about the lack of diversity in key Hollywood award ceremonies, with the latter claiming that the Oscars are “still rigged in favor of white people.”

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