UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme at Cinema Days 2019

By Diana Stratan | December 4, 2019 8:13 pm PST
UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme at Cinema Days 2019 - Mentoring Session

UNIC’s annual Cinema Days, our autumn convention where more than 180 industry leaders join us in Brussels for two days of panels, workshops and networking, also provides an occasion for participants of the UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme to come together to share, learn and connect.

This year was no exception with the mentoring session taking place on Monday, 28 October, just before the official start of the event. The Cinema Days started the evening before for our mentors and mentees with a networking dinner in the heart of Brussels. Building a community of women leaders that empower each other is one of our main priorities and, therefore, we aim to make the most of every opportunity to bring everyone together.

The following day, everyone reconvened for a working session to discuss progress, debate issues of interest and share thoughts on the programme. As is tradition, this was moderated by Monica Chadha, Independent Director and one of Cranfield University’s 2019 Women to Watch.

For an uplifting start, we always kick-off our sessions with an inspirational speaker. This time we were very fortunate to welcome Charlotte Lund Thomsen, Legal Counsel for FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) and IVF (International Video Federation) and one of the key figures in the European Audiovisual sector. Charlotte shared her path to leadership, the challenges she overcame and her key to success.

UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme at Cinema Days 2019 - Edna Epelbaum and Sharon Reid
Edna Epelbaum (left), an exhibitor and President of the Swiss Cinema Operators’ Association speaking with with Sharon Reid of Cinema First during UNIC’s Cinema Days 2019 in Brussels, Belgium in October. (Photo: UNIC)

Following on from this, each mentoring pair from the current edition explained how they approached the programme and how their mentoring journey had been so far. As mentors and mentees from previous editions were present at the session, they also provided their feedback and advice on to do’s and don’ts in building a mentoring relationship.

We co-create the agendas for our meetings together with our mentors and mentees to make sure they best responds to their needs. Therefore, the open debate that followed addressed mentees’ topics of interest, which were shared in advance. The discussion focused on personal branding and how to build visibility within the industry, how to be credible when joining new teams and on work/life balance with mentors around the table sharing their own experiences and advice. The meeting was followed by a networking lunch, during which the group had the opportunity to further continue their discussion.

Promoting gender-balanced leadership in the exhibition sector is one of UNIC’s key objectives. For us it was imperative – in addition to our closed session – to include the UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme in the official programme of the UNIC Cinema Days as well. Therefore, as part of a series of quick-fire presentations on the second day of the event, Edna Epelbaum (CEO of Cinevital, Cinepel, Cinemont, Quinnie; President of the Swiss Cinema Operators’ Association; Vice-President of UNIC) – a mentor in the first two editions of the programme – moderated a discussion with Sharon Reid (Director of Marketing and Partnerships, Cinema First Limited) and Lucia Anglade (Operational Director in charge of Pathé Brand Implementation, Les Cinémas Pathé Gaumont) – both mentees in the previous edition – about their experience of the UNIC mentoring scheme. The presentation also shined a light on the importance of mentoring and the need for more initiatives that support up -and-coming female leaders in the sector.

UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme at Cinema Days 2019 - Edna Epelbaum, Sharon Reid and Lucia Anglade
Edna Epelbaum (from left) moderating a discussion with Sharon Reid of Cinema First and Lucia Anglade of Les Cinémas Pathé Gaumont during UNIC’s Cinema Days 2019 in Brussels, Belgium in October. (Photo: UNIC)

The Cinema Days get-together proved once again that our community of inspiring female professionals is growing and that we have been fortunate enough to work with a dedicated group of mentors and mentees that are always willing to share and give something back to our industry.

For the mentors and mentees of the third edition, the next months of the programme will be even more exciting as they get closer and closer to their mentoring goals. In addition to activities such as a job shadowing exercise or a stretch project, at the beginning of next year the mentees will also have an opportunity to switch mentors for a month and receive advice and support from another industry leader from our community. On our side, UNIC will monitor their progress and make sure their journey is as rewarding as possible.

UNIC is already preparing the fourth edition of the UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme, which will be launched in June at CineEurope 2020. If you are interested in being part of the programme as either a mentor or a mentee, you can already declare your interest via dstratan@unic-cinemas.org

Diana Stratan