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

"It’s like nothing else."

For the 16th edition of Big Screen Feature - providing a behind-the-scenes look at the world of cinema exhibition through the eyes of professionals themselves - Grainne Peat (Managing Director, Event Cinema Association) discusses the job itself and the value of the Big Screen.


Describe your typical day at work.

When I was first asked to write this, my immediate thought was – “Gosh, a typical day at the Event Cinema Association (ECA). No day is ever the same, particularly in this current climate”. The diversity of my role and activities is something that I love – the announcements of new titles, responding to a member query, various daily meetings, composing an article or working on upcoming event – and always means I’m spinning a number of plates, though I am someone who works best under pressure. Truth be told, the last few weeks have felt more “typical” than they have for the last 6 months.

Considering I’m quite a structured person, my days are often unstructured. Though, I have a loose routine. Post-school run, I start the working day with a coffee catching up on industry news, my staple being LinkedIn, the beauty of which is the variety and breath of news that is shared from my connections. This is often followed by a bit of mailbox management and then I compose my (handwritten) to-do list for the day - knowing I will never get through everything - which helps to keep me focused on what my priorities are for the day ahead.

As a social-being, I make sure I have a couple of calls fixed every day to help keep connected with members and colleagues on how things are going. These calls enable me to better understand how the industry is shaping up and the challenges that different companies are facing but also what strategies they are forming to progress their businesses. But, equally, these calls help me to better understand how the ECA can support the industry.

Currently, we are working on two product presentations for CineAsia and the META Cinema Convention. Again, those that know me know that I’m a bit of a control freak and get quite involved in how we assemble the presentations - everything from the music choices to the running order. When working on events, there is a lot of administration and approval with stakeholders to go through, ensuring that content providers are happy with how their material is presented. This is very important to me, as we want to give them the best platform to showcase their content. I’m also participating on a panel for the META Cinema Convention and, having been furloughed for the last 6 months, with a couple of ‘outings’ under my ECA hat, its great to be back doing the day job and keeping on top on how well event cinema is performing across different territories.

With the constant shift of major titles, event cinema is becoming a lifeblood to cinemas at the moment and we are seeing a significant increase in programming and opportunities to play a wider range of events in cinemas. In September, the UK Box Office share increased from 3 per cent to 6 per cent and we are confident that this will increase again in October. I’m genuinely in awe of the content providers who are putting new and exciting content out there for cinemas to offer.

The opportunity for audiences to access the Arts outside of the home is hugely important to the ECA and it is certainly becoming an important driver that is encouraging audiences to return to the cinema. The ECA is committed to helping to elevate the range of performances and shows available and tap into those “hard to reach” audiences that are a key part of the event cinema demographic. Whilst current box office is in no way comparable to what it could have been, when you consider the limited play of new events against reduced occupancy, the events are performing solidly and are helping to bring in audiences. As we know from previous studies we have undertaken with Movio, there is a big crossover with event cinema audiences to mainstream titles, so I hope there is a growing “halo effect” in that those audiences are returning to the cinema - having had a previously great and safe experience - to see domestic product or a title they wouldn’t normally go and see. Pushing the safety message around cinema is one thing we as an industry need to stay actively focused on to help audiences understand that the measures put in place by cinemas make it a safe and enjoyable experience.

The moment you fell in love with the Big Screen?

I honestly cant remember my first cinema experience or what I saw. I do remember having my 7th or 8th birthday party at the Odeon in Cheltenham. I was able to take 5 friends, we all went to Wimpys (showing my age) afterwards and I remember being so excited. I was a big Disney fan as a child and can still remember seeing Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King all at the cinema. The main screen at the Odeon in Cheltenham, at that time, left such an impression on me. I can still remember sitting – centred - at the back, in awe of the size of the screen and being so excited to see the next Disney classic feature at the cinema. Cinema has always been a big part of my life and those that know me know I have long championed the power of the Big Screen, the escapism it provides to switch off and be transported somewhere else. It’s like nothing else. 

When I worked for MediCinema, I would regularly volunteer at the Wednesday screenings at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, to remind myself what I was fundraising for. The patient stories we would hear were truly heart-warming. Those who have spent prolonged periods of time in hospital, understand how isolating it can be. MediCinema offers a chance for patients to have a collective and enjoyable experience away from their wards and, for a few hours, forget where they are. I vividly remember the screening of The Hangover II, we had a full house – 100 seats, 4 hospital beds and a few patients in wheelchairs – and the atmosphere was incredible. I’d momentarily forgotten that I was in a hospital and looking around to see how poorly some of the patients were but, for the first time in a long time, they were laughing and had left their ward for a decent dose of cinematherapy - that there is real magic of cinema.

The best thing about the cinema experience?

It’s the prefect “me time”. I rarely switch-off and I am guilty of constantly having my phone in my hand, checking, reading, texting, talking. The cinema is the one time I switch the phone off and get transfixed – even when I take my son to see Hey Duggee – with no distractions. People find it hard to believe that in the last 3 months I have been to the cinema more times than I have been to the pub, which of the latter, has only been twice! The cinema is my sanctuary. I’m by no means a cinephile, I enjoy a wide range of content and I will opt to go to different cinemas to get the best experience for what I plan to see. That said, sound, seating and the quality of the nacho sauce dip are all very important determining considerations when deciding on where to go!