The Sundance Film Festival, South by Southwest, Tribeca, Bentonville, Athena, ATX Television Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival have committed to allot a portion of their credentials to members of the Time’s Up Critical database, Variety has learned exclusively. The online hub aims to increase representation of women, people of color, people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community in the television and film critics space.
“By encouraging industry leaders to be more intentional about who gets invited to their press junkets, screenings, red carpets, and other events, this database is one way they can work to dismantle the systemic barriers for critics of color and other underrepresented individuals,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of the Time’s Up Foundation. “Together, we can ensure these voices are represented and heard.”
The database was launched less than two weeks ago, and is now live and open for registration both for those looking to employ critics — who can register as publicists on the Time’s Up Critical site — and for critics themselves. The site, in development for more than a year, currently contains about 400 listings.
The Time’s Up Foundation aims to grow the database and connect more critics with mainstream publications. According to a recent analysis from the advocacy organization, only 21% of film reviewers are women, and 17% are people of color. Just 4% are women of color.
“The population consuming content has never been more far-reaching or diverse yet, for too long, most of the people reporting on, analyzing, and critiquing have been frustratingly uniform,” said Annenberg Inclusion Initiative founder and director Dr. Stacy L. Smith. “Concrete tools like the Critical database provide pathways for more people from all types of backgrounds to have the opportunity to shape our culture as professional journalists and critics.”
The Time’s Up critics and journalists initiative, which includes Critical, was among the group’s earliest priorities, says the organization, particularly given how impactful entertainment reporters and critics can be in “determining what work culture deems valuable and, by extension, what institutional support projects can command.”
More festivals are expected to sign on to the effort “imminently,” according to Time’s Up. Those that have already made commitments are embracing the initiative.
“Over the past two years, we have ramped up TIFF’s efforts to invite new voices from underrepresented communities into the festival conversation as accredited journalists,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF co-head and artistic director. “We stand with Time’s Up Critical in working towards a world where the people who interpret and assess our films reflect the diversity of the films themselves and the audiences who greet them.”