Q&A with Esther Lisk-Carew, Storyhouse Young Programmers Workshop Leader – Black History Month

A Q&A with Esther Lisk-Carew, Storyhouse Young Programmers Workshop Leader – Black History Month

How did you become involved?

I was originally approached by Nicky Beaumont in early 2020 to talk about my career journey as an Arts and Cultural Operations Manager & Programmer and I really enjoyed meeting the group. We bonded over everyone’s favourite films and dream film programmes and they seemed like a really nice group of people.  They had just started thinking about their 2020 Black History Month season so the Storyhouse team asked me back to support them in looking at films, discussing themes and narrowing down choices.  Due to COVID we restarted discussions this year now that we can have in person audiences.

Were there any decisions you didn’t agree with?

I grew up with the 1995 Pride and Prejudice and LOVE period dramas.  So Belle was a film that was made for me, it was Black British History directed by a Black British woman, centering a story of a woman of colour who was deeply loved and had gorgeous costumes.  So I understand why it wasn’t selected because we really went into what films appealed to the young people and potentially to audiences, but I think the group know how disappointed I was it didn’t make the cut.  Of course it’s not my season so at the end of the day it wasn’t my choice!

Also ,Talk to Me by Kasi Lemmons is a too little known film that comes at the story of the civil rights movement in America from a perspective I had never seen on screen.  I’ll take any excuse to watch Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor, Martin Sheen & Taraji P Henson on fine form, but a few of the programmers went away and tracked it down, which I’m really pleased about.

What choice surprised you the most?

It didn’t surprise me as much as it impressed me.  The make up of the group changed due to some of the young people’s commitments and I loved that the current group members who had been part of the early chats insisted that the films chosen by the POC members of the first group had to be in the season, because it was about telling the stories they thought were important.

I was also really happy to see how resilient the group were when some titles they picked and really cared about weren’t available and how they pivoted to other choices and really shared the decision making process.

Overall I’m really pleased with the range and quality of the films they picked and their openness to hearing about lots of different films and filmmakers.  I think we all came away with a huge watching list.

Any final takeaways?

I think it’s easy to forget how much young people have been struggling over the last year with real life as well as school or college and extra curricular projects so I really encourage people to show up for them because after juggling COVID life, academics, work and this project – I think the team has come up with something truly special.

Find out more about Black History Month films at Storyhouse here.

Read: Young Programmers on Black History Month.