Rotten Tomatoes Expands Critics Outreach and Grant Program, Starting with TIFF 2022

Founded in 2018, the program works with film festivals to increase inclusion initiatives, regional critic group scholarships, and mentorship programs for aspiring critics from underrepresented groups.
Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes, the go-to resource for ratings, has some Certified Fresh news: The Critics Outreach and Grant Program is now being expanded to include more aspiring filmmakers and writers.

Since its inception in 2018, Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Outreach and Grant Program has helped over 600 emerging entertainment critics pursue their academic and professional goals.

“According to a recent survey we conducted with 350 Tomatometer-approved critics, 92 percent contend that the cost of travel and lodging still prohibits them from attending key festivals and conventions,” Jenny Jediny, Rotten Tomatoes director of critic engagement, said. “Supporting festival inclusion programs remains an important part of Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Outreach and Grant Program and we’re thrilled to be expanding our mentorship initiatives and scholarships for aspiring critics from underrepresented groups.”

Starting with TIFF 2022, Rotten Tomatoes will add more support for key film festivals’ inclusion initiatives, regional critic group scholarships, and mentorship programs for aspiring critics from underrepresented groups. Rotten Tomatoes has also renewed its donation to 2022 TIFF Media Inclusion Initiative, which provides financial support to accredited press from underrepresented groups. Since the launch of TIFF’s Media Inclusion Initiative also in 2018, Rotten Tomatoes has contributed over $100,000 to the program.

Overall to date, Rotten Tomatoes has donated more than $350,000 to festival inclusion programs, college scholarships and more, helping more than 600 aspiring critics from underrepresented groups pursue their academic and professional goals on a national scale.

Rotten Tomatoes found that critics face three key challenges: finding new opportunities as members of a marginalized community, turning film and TV criticism into a full-time profession, and sustaining a work-life balance. Within the industry itself, survey participants cited a lack of access to screenings, a need for more diversity and inclusions within the critic community, and a continued adoption of COVID-mandated hybrid and virtual events and festivals due to travel expenses.

Additionally, among the critics from underrepresented groups who were surveyed, 76 percent said that they are invited to screenings more often when a film or series has a specific relation to their group.

And the efforts of Rotten Tomatoes don’t just stop at 2022 TIFF: Rotten Tomatoes additionally announced today that it will renew its support of the 2022 Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Ruth Batchelor Scholarship, which benefits aspiring film critics from underrepresented groups in the Los Angeles area. In Chicago, Rotten Tomatoes recently launched the “Emerging Critics Grant Program” with the Chicago Film Critics Association, designed to support diverse aspiring critics from the local area.

Rotten Tomatoes continues to elevate diverse voices in criticism by adding new Tomatometer-approved critics to its world-famous entertainment rating system. Each year, Rotten Tomatoes receives hundreds of applications for Tomatometer consideration, and evaluates potential candidates based on a set of criteria. The criteria were refreshed in 2018 to place a greater emphasis on each critic’s individual credentials rather than their outlet, allowing for a wider and more diverse pool of critics’ perspectives to be included in the Tomatometer.

Among the over 100 new critics that Rotten Tomatoes has added to its Tomatometer critics pool over the past year, 74 percent are from underrepresented groups, 48 percent are women, 38 percent are people of color, 76 percent are freelancers and 34 percent are from new media platforms, including YouTube, podcasts, and broadcast.

Since 2021, Rotten Tomatoes launched RT Labs, a free online educational resource platform designed to support aspiring critics through recorded expert panels, interviews, how-to guides, and more, expanding its educational and mentoring programs. As part of Rotten Tomatoes’ ongoing educational efforts, last month the brand hosted a panel discussion titled “Kicking Off Your Career in Film and Television Criticism” at the Asian American Journalists Association’s National Convention. The panel featured professional critics providing advice to early-career journalists and students seeking opportunities in film and television criticism.

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