IndustryMentoring Scheme

The UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership programme is a 12-month cross-sector, pan-European mentoring scheme for women in cinema exhibition. The programme is rooted in the belief that gender-balanced leadership in cinema exhibition is imperative for business success, better governance and more equity in the industry.

Our key long-term objective is to broaden and deepen the talent pool for leadership in our sector and promote a culture of change within the industry that values growth and equal opportunities.

The initial pilot was launched at CineEurope 2017 to provide 6 ‘up and coming’ female cinema professionals with the unique opportunity to receive one-to-one career advice and guidance from a female senior industry executive recognised for her leadership and business success across the wider cinema landscape. The pilot was warmly welcomed by the industry and is now successfully rolling, with the fourth edition launched in June 2020.


More information on the programme is available here

Edna Epelbaum

CEO of Cinevital, Cinepel, Cinemont, Quinnie; President of the Swiss Cinema Operators' Association; Vice-President of UNIC

Montse Gil

Vice-President General Manager of Paramount Pictures, Spain

Veronica Lindholm

Managing Director of Finnkino

Corinne Thibaut

International Director, Cinema & Leisure at Coca-Cola

Dee Vassili

Executive Director, Group HR at Vue International

Sarah Lewthwaite

Managing Director, Senior Vice President EMEA Region at Movio

Edna Epelbaum

CEO of Cinevital, Cinepel, Cinemont, Quinnie; President of the Swiss Cinema Operators' Association; Vice-President of UNIC

Susanna Hermida Barbato

Executive Board Member at NOS Audiovisuais

Elisabeth Halvorsen

Chief Executive Officer of Bergen Kino

Clare Binns

Joint Managing Director at Picturehouse Cinemas & Picturehouse Entertainment

Mariam El Bacha

Chief Executive Officer of Cinepax Cinemas

Sarah Lewthwaite

Managing Director, Senior Vice President EMEA Region at Movio

Daniella Koot

Director Theatre Programming at Pathé Netherlands

Sofie Braet

COO of Cinionic

Nathalie Cieutat

Director of Programming at Les Cinémas Pathé Gaumont

Helena Eklund

CMO, Marketing at Filmstaden

Cathy Huis in 't veld-Esser

CTO/Co-Owner of Gofilex

Petra Rockenfeller

Manager at Lichtburg Filmpalast

Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen

Chief Executive Officer of Novo Cinemas

Olga Zinyakova

President, KARO Cinema Chain

Eva Maria Valles Novel

HR Director, Spain & Portugal at Cinesa

Nathalie Cieutat

Director of Programming, Les Cinémas Pathé Gaumont

Anne Fitzgerald

Chief Legal Officer and EVP, Real Estate, Cineplex

Norma Garcia-Muro

Head of Industry and Cinema Marketing at THX

Kate Gerova 

Marketing & Brand Director, Curzon

Jadranka Islamovic

CEO and Member of the Board, Blitz-CineStar

Grainne Peat

Managing Director, Event Cinema Association

Kaisa Rakemaa

Head of Sales, B2B at Finnkino

Géke Roelink

Managing Director of Filmhuis Den Haag

Bettina Schmidt


Georgina Broadhurst

Head of Corporate Sales & Advertising at Vue International

Maria Galvez

Head of HR at Yelmo Cines

Magdalena Lewicka

Finance and Reporting Director at Multikino S.A.  

Sandrine Liscia

Manager of theaters in Neuchâtel, Cinepel

Lucie Morvan

Assistant to the CEO at Yorck-Kino

Gráinne Peat

Policy Executive at UK Cinema Association

Lucia Anglade

Regional Cinema Operations Director at Les Cinémas Gaumont Pathé

Marieke Jonker

Head of Content at Vue Netherlands 

Delia Kyburz

Head of Marketing and Events at Youcinema

Anna Malaret

Real Estate Director, Southern Europe at Cinesa 

Sharon Reid

Director of Marketing and Partnerships at Cinema First Limited

Valerie Thoen

International Human Capital Director at Kinepolis

Laura Weber

Chief Executive Officer at Cinecitta Multiplexkino

Angeliki Angelidou

Cinema Manager at Cineplexx Multiplexx Thessaloniki

Sévrine Breil

Regional Director at Les Cinémas Pathé Gaumont

Susanne Fläxl

Managing Director at Cineplex Neufahrn

Anna Grunert

Market analyst at Helios

Louise McKenzie

UK Operations Director at Webedia Movies Pro

Alessandra Pavan Bernacchi

Senior Manager, Theatre Development, UK and Africa at IMAX

Rochelle Shanthakumar

CRM Campaign Manager at ODEON Cinemas Group

Hanna Szczepkowska

Management Assistant at Arsenal Cinema Tübingen

Clarissa Bergh

Cinema Director, Lillehammer Cinema

Rachel Bland

Screen Content Manager, VUE Entertainment

Monika Giełżecka

IT & Cinema Technology Manager, Multikino Group

Johanna Herfter

Manager Statistics and Research, Rentrak Germany/Comscore Inc.

Valeria Kurohtina

Group Programme Manager, CINAMON

Madelene Lorentzsson

Film Booker, Svenska Bio

Laura Mancilla

Brand Manager EMEA, Searchlight Pictures / Disney

Anna Paprocka

Group Content Manager, ODEON Cinemas Group

Olivia Taylor

Senior Marketing Manager, EMEA, IMAX

2020 for women in cinema

The first ever spacewalk made by an all female team. The European Commission’s first woman President and the most gender-balanced college in history. Finland’s all female government coalition led by the youngest head of state in the world - these are just some of the headlines that made 2019 a historical year for women.

It was an inspiring and empowering year for women in the cinema industry as well. Gender balance was firmly on the agenda and across the film value-chain new initiatives were launched to make the industry more inclusive. The "Women on the move" day and the dialogues launched by Creative Europe MEDIA to highlight best practice, raise awareness and engage stakeholders from across the industry in promoting diversity or the Ballon Rouge, the creche service at festivals to help female professionals in the industry in their work/life balance and parenting duties, are just a few of them.  

Cinema exhibition itself has witnessed several key developments in this area. From EVE, the first French network for female operators launched in September at the FNCF Congress in Deauville to Women in Exhibition, a platform for networking and support for women launched in 2019 as well, the sector is doing more than ever to provide support mechanisms for its female professionals.

In addition, more female experts are on panels and in the spotlight than ever before. Celluloid Junkie’s annual Top 50 women in cinema, which has been acknowledging the success and achievements of women in exhibition over the past 5 years  has broken it’s record for nominations in 2019, proving the fact that the pool of female role models is growing stronger than ever.  

In the past few years, we have got the ball rolling in disrupting some well-established paradigms, status-quos and biases that have been holding our industry back.  However, we must remain realistic – there is so much more that can be done. This year’s Oscars, when again no female directors were nominated, is one of many examples showing that the playing field is still not even for men and women and that many of the glass walls are still very much intact.

So, while we reflect on progress, we should also keep an eye on the goals as there is still a long way to go. At current pace it could still take us nearly 100 years to close the gender gap around the world, but are we willing to wait so long?  Stepping into a new decade provides the perfect platform to start afresh with more targeted actions built on more clearly determined goals and the enthusiasm gained in the recent years can only help. 

However, we need a holistic approach and the commitment from all stakeholders: public authorities, trade bodies, production, distribution, exhibition, film markets, film festivals and individuals alike.  Each one of us in our daily jobs should ask ourselves: am I doing what I can to make my workplace more inclusive? Am I encouraging diversity of thought? Are my decisions fair and unbiased?  

One of the main ways for our industry to realise its full potential is by promoting more women into leadership roles. Gender balanced boards are key for better governance and a more inclusive workforce.

On our side, we embarked on the mission to promote gender balanced leadership in the sector in 2017 with the launch of the Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme, the first pan-European scheme for women in cinema exhibition.  The programme aims to provide up and coming female executives with an exclusive opportunity to be mentored by and network with an outstanding group of women leaders. Through a great mix of one to one mentoring sessions, network events and workshops, we provide a platform to both our mentors and mentees to enhance their leadership skills, build their network, give back to the industry and more importantly be part of a community of women that empower and support each other.  Currently, the third edition of the programme is successfully underway involving 16 participants representing over 10 countries.

We are certainly proud of what we have achieved so far, and our community of mentors and mentees is blooming. Furthermore, we are leading by example and have inspired other trade bodies in the industry to launch similar initiatives, with a mentoring scheme in distribution already in the pipeline. Our long-term goal is to attract, stimulate and retain the growth of female talent in our sector and see the mentees of today become the mentors of tomorrow – with the hope that the latter will happen sooner rather than later.   

As such, we are happy to let you know that we will be launching the fourth edition of the UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme at CineEurope 2020 in June, involving a new group of mentors and mentees -the call for applications is now open. Therefore, if you would like to take part in the programme or if you have a candidate in mind, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Change starts small, but it is most definitely happening!