Best Girl Grip

#118: Carmen Thompson, Curator & Creative Producer

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Episode notes

My guest this week is Carmen Thompson a film programmer, curator and creative producer based in Scotland, who predominantly works with Black film and cinema from the African continent and the diaspora, especially at their intersections with non-fiction storytelling. 

She currently works as cultural curator and programmer for award-winning exhibitors We Are Parable and as producer for international sales & distribution company Aya Films, where in recent years she has worked on the UK releases of acclaimed Kenyan film Rafiki (Wanuri Kahiu, 2018), Jamaican drama Sprinter (Storm Saulter, 2018) and Sundance award-winning This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection (Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, 2019). Aya Films also work across media education and in 2021 developed the app ‘Curate-It’: an interactive course designed to help democratise film programming and increase access to curatorial learning, supported by Screen Scotland.

Carmen has over 8 years’ experience in film exhibition and distribution and has worked for a range of organisations including Sheffield Doc/Fest, Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival, Everyman Cinemas, New Black Film Collective and Film Hub Scotland. She also serves on the board of Document Human Rights Film Festival, Glasgow Film and the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA).

We talk about her fairly circuitous route to programming and the responsibilities or considerations that come with that role, how she approaches contextualising or reframing African cinema, finding audiences who have been historically underserved when it comes to programming, leaving behind a PhD, wading into the world of freelance work and the interrogation at the heart of her programming. 

As always these interviews are recorded over Zoom so quality can vary. But I hope you enjoy our conversation.