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The 2024 Sundance Press Inclusion Initiative Application Open Now Through Friday, August 25th | Festivals & Awards

The rules state that by submitting a Press Inclusion Initiative form and Press Accreditation Application, applicants are being considered for two separate things. Regardless of whether they are selected to receive a stipend towards attending the festival in-person or online, they will be considered independently for a press credential at the festival. Press Accreditation Applications for Sundance 2024 will open Wednesday, August 23rd, which includes credentials for in-person and online accreditation and attendance. 

I was privileged to serve on the inaugural External Review Panel for the Sundance Press Inclusion Initiative along with Franklin Leonard and a few others. As a result of this robust program, I ended the Ebert Scholars/ Fellowship program that was commemorated by Robert Redford in 2013, in honor of my late husband Roger. The first official Ebert Fellows class attended Sundance in 2014 and was mentored by me and Eric Kohn of IndieWire.

Eric’s mentorship was partially patterned after his Critics Academy he started at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland. The Ebert Fellows were also mentored by Brian Tallerico and other editors at RogerEbert.com. As our program grew, we made sure that a wide variety of voices and opinions could be shared. We provided writing mentorship and their articles were published at RogerEbert.com. We also provided housing, flights and meals for our Ebert Fellows. A core part of the program encouraged the application of one of four principles when observing or writing about the films and the festival: empathy, compassion, kindness and/or forgiveness. 

The Sundance Press Inclusion Initiative was a much larger program, able to accept as many as 50 recipients at a time. I am not sure how many grants will be given this year, but the program has a far reach with generous donors. It is also operated under the principle that it is crucial to provide not only access to top tier credentials, but stipends to the attendees for lodging and flights and other expenses. It truly eliminates many obstacles in trying to establish a more level playing field. Because of the thriving nature of The Sundance program the Ebert Fellows at Sundance has been folded into it. The stand alone Ebert Fellowship program still exists at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. It is a year-round program operated by the College of Media.

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