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As stars and studios continue to call for more diverse film critics, Time’s Up and Annenberg Inclusion Initiative director Dr. Stacy L. Smith are stepping into the fray with a new database of diverse critics and journalists.
Called CRITICAL, the forthcoming opt-in database, open to all, aims to connect underrepresented film critics and journalists with publicists, studios, film critics associations and talent. Over 200 critics and journalists have created profiles so far after being contacted by CRITICAL or friends who forwarded CRITICAL’s email about the initiative.
CRITICAL, which Time’s Up is calling a collaboration with studio executives, publicists and journalists, is set to make its public debut in the next few months.
The move follows intensifying calls from within the industry to diversify film criticism in the wake of the #MeToo movement, and in particular since the beginning of 2018. In March, film producer/director Miranda Bailey announced CherryPicks, a forthcoming Rotten Tomatoes-style site featuring review by female critics only (so far, CherryPicks is only in newsletter form). A few months later, Brie Larson announced in a fiery speech at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards that the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals had committed to offering 20 percent additional film credentials to underrepresented journalists and critics, while Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock called for more female film critics during press for Ocean’s 8.
The first USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative reviewing film critic diversity, published in June, found that just 22.2 percent of reviews of the top 100 films of 2017 on Rotten Tomatoes were penned by women. Underrepresented male critics wrote only 13.8 percent of reviews, while underrepresented women wrote just 4.1 percent.
“Even among top critics, the words of white and male critics fill a greater share of the conversation than females and people of color,” the study’s leader author Marc Choueiti said in a statement. “Re-examining the definition of a top critic or simply casting a wider net can be the opportunity to open up and diversify the voices heard in the critic space.”
On Tuesday, a study released by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found that male reviewers were more likely to review films starring a male protagonist and less likely to mention a female director — or comment positively on her — when the film was female-helmed. The study also found that men dominated in every job category studied, including film critics (77 percent male) and freelancers (68 percent), and every form of media such as newspapers (68 percent male) and trades (70 percent).
Critics who are interested in creating a profile on CRITICAL are encouraged to email email@example.com.
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