The Sundance and Toronto film festivals will both allocate 20 percent of press credentials to underrepresented journalists going forward, Brie Larson announced on Wednesday night at the Women in Film Los Angeles Crystal + Lucy Awards.
Collecting the Crystal Award for Excellence in Film, Larson said that Sundance would ensure “at least 20 percent of their top level press passes will go to underrepresented critics.” She added that TIFF would do the same. “Although it already has regional diversity outside of Canada and the U.S.,” she said, “it’s working towards [adding] an additional 20 percent of underrepresented voices from across the globe.”
Explaining she had decided to dedicate her acceptance speech to something that’s “really important” to her, Larsen cited USC Annenberg’s inclusivity initiative, which published its study results earlier this week. Quoting their findings, she said: “67 percent of the top critics reviewing the 100 highest-grossing movies in 2017 were white males; less than a quarter were white women; less than ten percent were underrepresented men. Only 2.5 percent of those top critics were women of color.”
Larson pointed out that this was a “huge disconnect” for the US population, given that its breakdown is 30 percent white men, 30 percent white white women, 20 percent men of color and 20 percent women of color.
“Am I saying that I hate white dudes? No I’m not,” she said, to laughter from the audience. “But what I am saying is if you make a movie that is a love letter to a woman of color, there is an insanely low chance that a woman of color will have a chance to see your movie and review your movie.”
These policies at Sundance and TIFF will go some way to changing this. “We need to be conscious of our bias and do our part to make sure that everyone is in the room,” she said.
“It really sucks that reviews matter, but reviews matter,” she said. “We are expanding to make films that reflect the people who buy movie tickets….I do not need a 40 year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work for him about A Wrinkle in Time. It wasn’t made for him….I want to know what my work means to the world, not a narrow view.”
Larson also called for publicists to ensure they invite an inclusive group of journalists to their press lines and junkets, adding that Women in Film had a “completely inclusive” press line at the awards.
She also asked that each of the top 100 films each year add nine critics: three underrepresented males; three white females, and three underrepresented females. “Then the average critic pool would match the US population in just five years.”
“Female and underrepresented critics can’t review what they don’t see,” Larson went on, appealing to the audience packed full with publicists, agents and managers to help change this. “Many are denied accreditation or access to press screenings. Please make sure that these invites and credentials find their way to more underrepresented journalists and critics, many of whom are freelancers.”