Story at a glance

  • Entertainment journalists and critics can have a major effect on the success of both films and the people who work on them.
  • Currently, these gatekeepers are overwhelmingly white and male.
  • A new partnership seeks to ensure female and minority critics and journalists are represented at major film festivals.

Two years after the #TimesUp movement began, major film festivals are making a move to break into the majority white male ranks of Hollywood’s gatekeepers. 

The Sundance Film Festival, South by Southwest, Tribeca, Bentonville, Athena, ATX Television Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) will reserve a portion of their credentials for members of the Time's Up Critical database, according to an exclusive report from Variety. The opt-in database is comprised of entertainment journalists and critics from underrepresented groups. 

“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,” Tina Tchen, president and CEO of the Time’s Up Foundation, told Variety. “Together, we can ensure these voices are represented and heard.”

In a review of critics of the top 300 grossing films between 2015 and 2017, The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that 83 percent of them were white and 79 percent were male. Women of color made up the smallest demographic of critics at 4 percent. 

The Time's Up Critical initiative seeks to increase the number of female and underrepresented critics and reporters in the entertainment industry by linking publicists directly with them. Started two weeks ago, the database has amassed about 400 listings, according to Variety. 

“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,” Cameron Bailey, TIFF co-head and artistic director, told Variety. “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.”

Published on Jan 22, 2020