CJ’s Top Women In Global Distribution – 2023

By J. Sperling Reich | January 1, 2024 3:59 pm PST
Top Women In Global Distribution 2023

Upon publishing our first Top Women In Distribution list last year, we were pleased to see how receptive the industry was to the initiative. In fact, it was so popular that we were hardly prepared for the overwhelming number of responses that would flood in upon putting out a call for nominations for this year’s list. It quickly became clear that this year’s celebration of women working in motion picture distribution would not be complete by mid-November as we had originally intended. Instead, it took us straight up to the final days of 2023 to properly review all the entries.

Many entrants on this year’s list received multiple nominations from co-workers, colleagues, trade organizations and, of course, their own companies. There were lots of nominees that appeared on our 2022 list of Top Women In Distribution and even more first time nominations for industry professionals that could easily have made last year’s roundup. And there are at least 17 new entrants on our 2023 list.

We are always concerned about overlooking important executives when compiling our lists and this year was no exception. Despite the increase in the number of nominations we received, we still have a few blind spots when it comes to certain territories such as Asia, the Middle East and India.

As with our inaugural list, the only criteria we had when compiling the 2023 edition was that the nominees work specifically in distribution. That is why senior leaders like Anna Marsh, CEO of Studiocanal, and Donna Langley DBE, Chairman and Chief Content Officer of NBCUniversal Studio Group aren’t eligible. We have included executives from big studios who send blockbusters around the globe, as well as distributors who handle arthouse and documentary titles in a single country. And though we were encouraged to maintain a ranked order (rather than alphabetical) any movement, up or down, in placements between years is hardly indicative given how exaggerated they may be due to the number of new entrants.

This year Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, the President of Distribution at Universal Pictures International tops our list. This should come as no surprise given the number of high profile box office hits Universal handled this year, including two few had pegged as high grossers at the beginning of 2023; “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” and “Five Nights at Freddy’s.”

Please Note: Names in the list that currently don’t display a profile or headshot were simply quite tricky to find. Please feel free to send us any relevant information that can be added in to women@celluloidjunkie.com.

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Veronika Kwan Vandenberg

President of Distribution, Universal Pictures International

As President of Distribution for Universal Pictures International (UPI) Veronika Kwan Vandenberg oversaw 24 film releases in 2023 that took in more than USD $2.971 billion internationally. Starting with the surprise hit “M3GAN” in January through “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” in April and right up to “Migration” in December, Kwan Vandenberg and her global team oversaw international operations and sales for all of Universal’s titles. These included three of the top four titles released internationally by MPA members.

In the process Kwan Vandenberg and her team even managed to convince moviegoers to see “Oppenheimer,” a three-hour historical biopic about a physicist. (Though, filmmaker Christopher Nolan might describe his film differently.) She had worked with Nolan previously at Warner Bros. Pictures, where she spent 18 years as head of international distribution.

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Cathleen Taff

President, Production Services, Franchise Management and Theatrical Distribution, Disney Entertainment, Studios

Cathleen Taff

Overseeing global theatrical distribution is but one of many duties Cathleen Taff assumes at The Walt Disney Studios and its subsidiaries, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, and Searchlight Pictures. In fact, it’s hard to believe there are enough hours in the day for Taff to not only handle distribution, but also lead the production services group, operations, technology, and labor relations for the Studios’ theatrical and streaming content. And don’t forget about Disney’s Theatrical Group and Music Group for which Taff is also responsible.

A 29-year Disney veteran, Taff is also charged with handling the franchise management group helping maximize the studio’s intellectual property across The Walt Disney Company, as well as the multicultural engagement team focusing on diversity and inclusion initiatives.

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Helen Moss

SVP of International Distribution, Paramount Pictures

Helen Moss, Senior Vice President of International Theatrical Distribution at Paramount Pictures, oversees the planning and execution of all theatrical releases for Paramount titles in over 70 markets around the globe. In 2023 this meant juggling “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” “Transformers: Rise of The Beasts,” “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” and “Killers of the Flower Moon” to name just a few of the studio’s releases.

Moss has 15 years of experience in international distribution and has earned a reputation during her time at Paramount for helping grow franchises and increase box office revenue.

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Gina Glen

Director of Distribution, IMAX

Premium large format pioneer IMAX has had quite a year with record earnings thanks to a string of endless blockbusters including “Oppenheimer,” “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” “Lost in the Stars”, among many other titles. Managing all the releases around the world for the company is Gina Glen. Since 2001 she has been responsible for distribution of original feature film content, as well as DMR titles (IMAX’s proprietary image enhancement process) to IMAX cinemas across the world. Glen may have a bit more work to do over the next few years since the company continues to open auditoriums around the globe, signing deals with exhibitors on several continents over the past year.

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Helen Lee-Kim

President of International, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group

Helen Lee-Kim of Lionsgate

Helen Lee-Kim heads the international licensing of Lionsgate’s diversified slate of titles from tentpoles to targeted genre films. She is a key member of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group’s leadership and content strategy team shepherding the studio’s fast growing multi-platform business including streaming. Since rejoining the studio in 2017, she has generated nearly USD $1 billion in sales.

In 2023, Lee-Kim and her team oversaw key studio franchises including: “John Wick: Chapter 4”, earning a franchise-best USD $440 million at the global box office and “Saw X” while also cutting deals with partners for the rollout of “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.”

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Karyn A. Temple

Senior Executive Vice President and Global General Counsel, Motion Picture Association

To be sure, Karyn Temple does not distribute motion pictures into cinemas per se, however as the Senior Executive Vice President and Global General Counsel for the Motion Picture Association (MPA) she has been busy during 2023 making sure titles that make it into movie theatres aren’t pirated. In July over this year she helped realize a memorandum of understanding between the Korea Copyright Protection Agency (KCOPA) and the MPA to cooperate on the protection of international copyrights. Then, in the December, she testified before the United States Congress about the need for legislation that will allow for piracy websites to be blocked by internet service providers.

After spending eight years leading the U.S. Copyright Office as the Register of Copyrights and five years at the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) working on anti-piracy litigation matters, Temple has become a leading expert on the subject.

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Kathleen Gallagher

EVP & General Sales Manager Theatrical Distribution, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (North America)

Kathleen Gallagher

In her second year as EVP and General Sales Manager of North America at Universal Pictures, Kathleen Gallagher has been leading the studio’s sales teams in the United States and Canada, overseeing the distribution strategies for Universal titles within the territories. Between “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” “Fast X” and “Oppenheimer,” not to mention “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” Gallagher helped bring in over USD $1 billion of box office gross for Universal. She has been with the company for 23 years.

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Wendy Reeds

EVP, International Sales & China/Asia Productions and Strategy, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group

Wendy Reeds - Lionsgate

In charge of licensing all of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group’s films for international territories, Wendy Reeds is a 30-year veteran of international theatrical distribution. Reeds ran Lionsgate’s Asian sales and operations out of Hong Kong for several years, and was instrumental in building Lionsgate’s operations in China. During Reeds’ tenure, Lionsgate has been a partner in a number of content agreements with digital and traditional distribution partners throughout China.

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Huang Ziyan

CEO & President, Heguang Pictures

Huang Ziyan - Heguang Pictures

Since 2010 Huang Ziyan has guided the marketing and distribution of over 100 films in China as CEO and President of Heguang Pictures. Her releases have earned a total of CNY ¥18.99 billion (USD $2.63 billion) in box office making her one of the most accomplished female distribution executives in China. During 2023’s Lunar New Year, Heguang released “Bonnie Bears: Guardian Code” which earned CNY ¥1.495 billion (USD $220 million) and went on to bring the hit animated film “Happy Mom and Girl 1: Sweetheart on Mission” to cinemas in July.

Huang spent four years as a Vice President at Englight Pictures where she was involved with the financing, marketing and distribution of 25 films, maintaining four consecutive years of 100% box office growth. During that time she was in charge of implementing the company’s “Ground Network Model,” which localized and reformed the traditional centralized film distribution system in China. In 2011, with her late husband Zhang Zhao, Huang founded Le Vision Pictures which went on to make such films as Zhang Yimou’s “Great Wall.”

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Monique Esclavissat

EVP, International Productions/Acquisitions & Latin America Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures International

Monique Esclavissat

Monique Esclavissat has been with Warner Bros. Pictures since 1998 and currently supervises the studio’s distribution activities in Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. In 2023 that meant making certain “Barbie” was a hit across multiple regions, not to mention conflicting cultures. (Spoiler Alert: “Barbie” was a blockbuster.) Fluent in four languages, Esclavissat also manages the studio’s local language productions. She began her career as Vice President, International Sales & Distribution, for Castle Rock International.

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Carol Choi

EVP of Original Content Strategy, The Walt Disney Company APAC

Carol Choi - Managing Director, The Walt Disney Company Japan

There must have been no rest for Carol Choi this year as she helped bring at least 13 new releases to theatres throughout Japan (and the rest of Asia). She’s been with The Walt Disney Company for 17 years now, first heading up the studio’s Disney office, before taking over its Korean operations and ultimately being named Managing Director of Japan. While Choi is still responsible for achieving all the strategic objectives of Disney in Japan across multiple divisions, with so much experience the studio tapped her to be EVP of Original Content Strategy for Asia-Pacific.

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Toshi Yamasaki

President & CEO, TOHO-TOWA Company

A subsidiary of Toho, Toho-Towa is Japan’s oldest motion picture importer and distributor, handling titles for both Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios. Toshi Yamasaki, the company’s CEO, was instrumental in creating those relationships and continues to manage TOHO-TAWA’s international business, acquisitions and distribution throughout Japan. That meant raking in upwards of 20% of the country’s billion-dollar-plus box office in 2023, making “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” its top earner for the year. Keep in mind, this was done without help from “Oppenheimer” which hasn’t yet been released in Japan (though it will be in 2024). Fluent in Japanese, English and French she was the first woman president in the entire TOHO group.

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Lisa Bunnell

President of Distribution, Focus Features

Lisa Bunnell

Whether a Sundance award winner or Cannes favorite, Lisa Bunnell has earned a legendary reputation for turning specialty titles into theatrical hits. As President of Distribution at Focus Features she ensured the success of Wes Anderson’s latest, “Asteroid City” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3,” lest we forget “The Holdovers” and “Book Club: The Next Chapter.” What may make Bunnell so successful is being able to draw from her experience in both distribution and exhibition, having previously spent 17 years at Loews Cineplex before heading to Landmark Theatres as their head film buyer.

Melanie Valera

SVP General Sales Manager, Paramount Pictures

Melanie Valera - Paramount Pictures

A 20-year veteran of Paramount Pictures, Melanie Valera will assume the role of SVP, General Sales Manager at the start of 2024. Previously responsible for distributing films in the Midwest and South with her sales team, Valera will soon be taking her talents nationwide. Prior to her role at Paramount Pictures, she held positions at DreamWorks and Miramax. She is very active within the film community and is the former President of Film Row and serves on the board of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation and The Motion Picture Club.

Subha-Orn (Soupy) Rathanamongkolmas

Vice President, South Asia, Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures had a great year in 2023 due to blockbusters that performed well all over the world. In at least 18 markets throughout Asia, the studio has Soupy Rathanamongkolmas to thank for the success. As Vice President of South Asia for Universal Pictures International she manages the company’s titles across the region from India to the Philippines. Prior to joining the studio, she worked at The Walt Disney Company for 18 years in various roles including Head of Distribution, Studio Entertainment for Southeast Asia.

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Finola Mcloughlin

Executive Director, EMEA Theatrical Distribution, Warner Bros. Entertainment

Finola Mcloughlin - Warner Bros. Entertainment

In her current role of Executive Director, EMEA at Warner Bros. Entertainment Finola Mcloughlin’s key focus is overseeing the theatrical distribution of all the studio’s releases across Central and Eastern European Countries (CEE), Baltics, Balkans, former Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Africa, Portugal, Greece and Israel. Her responsibilities also involve pan regional initiatives where Mcloughlin can draw on her years of experience working primarily with Western European markets from when she first joined Warner Bros. over 17 years ago. Mcloughlin started her career working in Anti-Piracy operations at the Motion Picture Association (MPA) in Brussels, Belgium.

Jody Pope

Director, Distribution EMEA, Universal Pictures International

Universal Pictures

Jody Pope oversees theatrical distribution for Universal Pictures International (UPI) in over 20 countries within EMEA, a region that delivered USD $1.547 billion in box office for the studio in 2023, releasing 24 titles that included “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” “Fast X” and “Oppenheimer” among others. Pope started her career in film distribution in 2002, heading up Theatrical Sales for Soda Pictures and Revolver Entertainment in the United Kingdom before moving to Universal Pictures UK. An Exhibition role followed as Head of Film at Everyman Cinemas before she returned to Universal Pictures International in 2015 as Director Distribution, EMEA.

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Yit-Ching Lee

Vice President Distribution EMEA, Paramount Pictures

Yit-Ching Lee - Paramount Pictures

Yit-Ching Lee has been a driving force at Paramount’s EMEA regional office since 2007, overseeing theatrical distribution throughout the region. This year she helped ensure major titles such as “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” “Transformers: Rise of The Beasts,” and Martin Scorsese’s latest film, “Killers of the Flower Moon”, were successful. Lee has served as Chair & Co-chair of Paramount’s Inclusion & Diversity initiatives for women and parents and mentored with UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership program. Her career began at United International Pictures developing international emerging markets.

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Sasha Lloyd

CEO of International & Strategy, A24

Sasha Lloyd - A24

When A24 set about finding an executive to take charge of its film and television distribution and business development in international territories, it took the unusual approach of hiring someone from the world if investment banking and finance. Sasha Lloyd began her career at Goldman Sachs working on accounts that included Lionsgate and other distributors among them. She then spent four years at the boutique investment bank GHL & Company, helping with entertainment and media company deals, including the USD $750 million refinancing of Summit Entertainment. A24 brought her on board at the beginning of 2016 to build an international division. In 2023 the UK native went from struggling to stay awake as a child to watch the Academy Awards ceremony to being at the Oscars to see the A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once” win the top six awards, something never achieved by a single studio in the events 95-year history.

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Elissa Federoff

President of Distribution, NEON

Elissa Federoff is the President of Theatrical Distribution for NEON and has been with the company since its inception in January 2017. Federoff oversees the company’s release strategy across all its titles, positioning NEON as a major theatrical player with both big cinema chains and independent arthouses. She previously held stints at The Orchard, boutique label RADiUS, Oscilloscope Laboratories and Lionsgate. Federoff received the Dan Fellman Show “E” Award during ShowEast in 2023.

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Ariane Toscan du Plantier

Director of French and International Cinema Distribution, Gaumont

As the Director of French and International Cinema Distribution at Gaumont, Ariane Toscan du Plantier helped bring at least eight titles to cinemas in 2023 including “A Difficult Year,” “Father & Solder,” “Un Homme Heureux” and the Cannes selection, “The Taste of Things.” With a staff of three dozen, Toscan du Plantier manages Gaumont’s distribution both in France and internationally. She has been with the company for 28 years.

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Susan Cotliar

Vice President, Cinema Partnerships, Disney Entertainment, Studios

In 2023 Disney had no shortage of releases that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to produce. From “The Little Mermaid” to the most recent “Indiana Jones” sequel, Susan Cotliar, Vice President of Cinema Partnerships at The Walt Disney Studios, was charged with overseeing everything from trailer placement to lobby marketing campaigns, as well as countless other in-theatre marketing efforts. She spent 24 years at Twentieth Century Fox, ultimately being named Senior Vice President of In-Theatre Marketing before becoming a part of the Disney family through the acquisition of Fox.

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Ann-Elizabeth Crotty

EVP, Global Customer Experience, Marketing, Sales & Operations Specialist, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Ann-Elizabeth Crotty has been working in exhibitor relations in one form or another since 1997. After joining Sony Pictures in 2005 she has since become EVP, Global Customer Experience, Marketing, Sales & Operations Specialist. Crotty is known throughout the film industry as someone who can “get things done” with a positive attitude, no matter how challenging the film. In 2023, she worked on over a dozen releases including “No Hard Feelings,” “The Equalizer 3” and, of course, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”

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Nathalie Cieutat

Deputy Managing Director Distribution, Pathé Films

Ask anyone in France, if not Europe, to identify the region’s top motion picture executives and the name Nathalie Cieutat will surely be mentioned. Cieutat is currently overseeing the distribution of Pathé Films releases, after having spent six years on the company’s exhibition side as the director of programming for Les Cinémas Pathé Gaumont. She started out working as a sales director for both Warner Bros. and Wild Bunch Distribution.

Christine Eloy

Managing Director, Europa Distribution

Christine Eloy

Christine Eloy has been representing the interests of independent European distributors for over 10 years now as Managing Director of Europa Distribution. The association counts 120 leading independent distributors as members throughout 31 countries in Europe and beyond. Eloy heads up Europa’s operations which include acting as both a network for the distribution of independent films, as well as a think tank for sharing information and training industry professionals.

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Kelly O’Connor

SVP, Exhibitor & Marketing Services at Warner Bros. Pictures Domestic Distribution

Kelly O'Connor - Warner Bros.

Anyone in the United States or Canada who took a photo inside one of those giant Barbie doll boxes that were omnipresent in movie theatre lobbies during the summer of 2023, and let’s face it, who didn’t, has Kelly O’Connor to thank. She is the SVP of Exhibitor & Marketing Services at Warner Bros. Pictures on the domestic side and has been working with the studio since 1988. O’Connor has spent over 30 years working in the exhibitor relations department at the company managing the placement of trailers, one sheets, marketing material and yes, those Barbie boxes, in cinemas throughout North America.

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Patricia Gonzalez

EVP, In-Theatre Marketing, Paramount Pictures

Patricia Gonzalez - Paramount Pictures

If you work in exhibition or distribution in North America, if not the world, then you know Patricia Gonzalez. Period. As Executive Vice President, In-Theatre Marketing for Paramount Pictures, Gonzalez is responsible for the development of film marketing campaign strategies for domestic theatrical releases. In 2023 alone she helped create film marketing campaigns for “80 for Brady,” “Scream VI,” “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” and “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Her responsibilities encompass the negotiation of key marketing activations including on-screen trailer programming, placement of digital and print advertising, specialty theatrical exhibits, on-screen custom content, development of exhibitor-specific online and social media strategies, creating movie fan events and collaborating on studio life-cycle marketing initiatives. Prior to joining Paramount in 2006, Gonzalez served as Head of In-Theatre Marketing Services for DreamWorks SKG for more than a decade. In June of 2023, Gonzalez was accepted as a member into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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Sarah Timlick

Head of Theatrical Sales Distribution, Elevation Pictures

Sarah Timlick - Elevation Pictures

Sarah Timlick is the Head of Theatrical Sales Distribution for Elevation Pictures, the largest independent distributor in Canada. In 2023, she managed the Canadian distribution of titles such as “Ferarri,” “Zone of Interest,” and “Past Lives”, among many others. She has been in the film industry for over 10 years, having begun her career at Alliance Films after completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Toronto. Timlick also serves on the board for the Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters (CAFDE) and the Canadian Picture Pioneers, as well as holding the distinction of being the youngest executive to be elected as the Chair of the Ontario Film Authority Board of Directors.

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Pia Grünler

Nordic Head of Theatrical Distribution, SF Studios

Pia Grünler

Pia Grünler has been working in film distribution in Sweden for over 25 years. In 2023 she was promoted to Nordic Head of Theatrical Distribution at SF Studios. Previously, Grünler had been managing the company’s theatrical distribution for seven years. In her new role she will take on the full responsibility for the theatrical business and team in the Nordics. This means Grünler will be handling SF Studios’ own productions as well as local language titles from independent producers alongside releases from Hollywood studios such as Sony Pictures and MGM.

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Rebecca Kearey

Head of International & Business Operations, Searchlight Pictures

Rebecca Kearey - Searchlight Pictures

Rebecca Kearey began working with Searchlight Pictures at the company’s inception, where she started out working in domestic marketing. She took over running international operations for the company in 2005 and is now Head of International & Business Operations. Having spent nearly two decades in leadership at the studio, she has supervised the international marketing and distribution of all its releases including multiple Academy Award Best Picture winners. During Kearey’s tenure, Searchlight’s titles have grossed over USD $2.1 billion at the international box office and garnered over 40 BAFTA Awards.

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Liza Pano

SVP, Worldwide Distribution Services, Paramount Pictures

Liza Pano

Liza Pano is Senior Vice President, Worldwide Distribution Services at Paramount Pictures, where she is responsible for overseeing global localization and distribution for theatrical and non-theatrical releases. She joined Paramount when the studio acquired DreamWorks, where she was serving as Vice President, Worldwide Technical Services, supervising the international delivery of all the company’s titles. Pano previously worked at 20th Century Fox in post-production and at Dolby as Manager for Theatrical Marketing and Promotions.

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Nicole Weis

Vice President of Theatrical Distribution, IFC

Nicole Weis - IFC Films

Nicole Weis was brought into IFC Films in 2023 as Vice Presdient of Theatrical Distribution to handle the company’s slate of films across all three of its labels; IFC, RJLE Films, and Shudder. Weis arrives at IFC after four years at A24 where she was Vice President of Sales and Distribution, where she helped bring “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” “Midsommar,” “Minari,” “Uncut Gems” and “The Whale” to movie theatres, among many other titles. She began her career at Universal Pictures, where Weis spent seven years working at Universal Pictures in distribution, eventually becoming Director of Sales, leading domestic business planning and bottom-line growth strategies.

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Susanna Barbato

Executive Board Member, NOS Lusomundo Audiovisuais

Whenever anyone asks whether Susanna Barbato works in exhibition or distribution at NOS Lusomundo Audiovisuais, the answer is always “yes.” That’s because, as an Executive Board member for the company, Barbato works in both areas. She oversees the strategic development of film acquisition and distribution from both independent producers and major studios for multiple platforms including cinema, home entertainment and television. NOS is the leading content provider in Portugal as well as Portuguese speaking territories. NOS also operates the leading cinema chain in Portugal, with over 210 screens, where Barbato helps manage programming.

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Lene Hjertøy

Head of Theatrical Distribution Norway, SF Studios

Lene Hjertøy - SF Studios Norway

After spending 22 years working her way into a senior position in distribution at The Walt Disney Company’s Nordic division, Lene Hjertøy began as Head of Theatrical Distribution Norway at SF Studios in January of 2023. This year alone she had to manage the release of over two dozen titles, both local productions and international hits from Holllywood studios, such as “Sulis 1907,” “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and “Napoleon.”

Katarina Nyman

Director of Film Distribution, Nordisk Film

Katarina Nyman has been with Nordisk Film for over 20 years and is currently Director of Distribution in Finland for the company. In this capacity she has overseen the release of at least 20 local titles during the past two years. During 2023 half of all admissions to local productions were generated by Nordisk Film releases, including the international hit “Sisu.” Nyman is President of the Finnish Chamber of Films, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year by launching a national cinema day to draw audience attention to the cinema going experience.

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Anna Chettle

Managing Director, International, A24

Anna Chettle - A24

Indie darling A24 has been known to use partners outside of North America to distribute titles such as the award-winning “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” More and more however, the company is releasing its movies internationally. In fact, Anna Chettle now oversees A24’s international sales arm and distribution operations across international territories. After spending five years at Hanway Films in London, Chettle moved to New York to join the company’s international team, helping Sasha Lloyd build an international sales and distribution division for A24.

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Kymberli Frueh

SVP of Content Acquisitions & Programming, Trafalgar Releasing

For the past five years Kymberli Frueh has held a senior position at Trafalgar Releasing, a leading international distributor of event cinema and specialty titles. Currently Senior Vice President of Content Acquisitions & Programming at Trafalger, Frueh had quite the year working on concert films like “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour” and “Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé” along with cinematic events for Dolly Parton, Machine Gun Kelly and Metallica, to name but a few. Of course, during 2023 Trafalgar also handled the usual event cinema fare of Broadway productions, operas, ballets and classic re-releases. She previously spent 10 years heading up the programming team at Fathom Events, helping build event cinema into the serious business it has ultimately become.

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Cécile Gaget

Head of Film, Wild Bunch

In her first full year at Wild Bunch as Head of Film, Cécile Gaget distributed Japanese hits such as “The First Slam Dunk” and Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron” in France. Of course, Wild Bunch also released numerous local language titles including “L’événement” and “Sentimental.” Gaget oversees French acquisitions, distribution and local production for the company. She previously spent two years at Anton as President of International Production and Distribution and a decade at Gaumont.

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Daniela Elstner

Executive Director, Unifrance

Daniela Elstner - Unifrance

Daniela Elstner began her career at Unifrance in 1996 and is now its Executive Director, a position she has held since 2019. Unifrance is a trade organization based in Paris with 50 employees charged with promoting French cinema at home and abroad. Elstner has previously been the Director of Sales at Les Films du Losange and worked at Doc & Film International. She has also been president of the Association of Film Exporters since 2015. She was a featured speaker at the 2023 SXSW conference.

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Elizabeth Trotman

CEO Australia & New Zealand, Studiocanal

As CEO of StudioCanal’s operations in Australian and New Zealand, Elizabeth Trotman manages theatrical film and television distribution, acquisitions, development, and production among many other responsibilities. She has had stints at Warner Bros., spent 10 years at the HOYTS Group and for the past 12 years has been with StudioCanal, overseeing the theatrical release of roughly 20 films per year in the region. During her tenure at StudioCanal, Trotman has handled the distribution of over 250 films.

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Silvia Cruz

CEO, Vitrine Filmes

Silvia Cruz - Vitrine Filmes

Silvia Cruz founded Vitrine in 2010 in Brazil as a distribution company dedicated to bringing local and international art house films to cinemas throughout the country. Since then Vitrine has been responsible for distributing over 150 titles including Kleber Mendonça Filho’s “Aquarius” and “Bacurao,” Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha” and Karim Ainouz’s “The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao.” In 2019, Cruz moved to Spain and began working in film distribution and production through Vitrine Filmes in both countries. She began her career at Pandora Filmes, and worked at Europa Filmes and Coração da Selva, acting in the executive production area and acquisitions.

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Anny Schmit

Managing Director, Sony Pictures Releasing

Anny Schmit - Sony Pictures

Based in Belgium, Anny Schmit is Managing Director at Sony Pictures, a role she has held for over three years. Early in her career Schmit spent three years as the Marketing Manager for Warner Bros. Belgium where she ultimately became Managing Director between 2000-2008. Starting in 2013, she headed up film distribution and home entertainment as the General Manager Distribution Benelux at Belga Films for five years. Her roles have also led her to develop solid experience in marketing and communications, especially during her four years as Managing Director of media agency, Carat.

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Trish Long

General Manager & Vice President, The Walt Disney Company (Ireland)

Trish Long

Trish Long will mark 30 years with The Walt Disney Company in 2024. She has been the General Manager & Vice President of the company’s Ireland operations since 2008. Long is involved in several of Disney’s EMEA initiatives as well and is a member of The Walt Disney Company’s International Futures team. In addition to working in motion picture distribution for one of Hollywood’s biggest studios, she is Chair of the Dublin International Film Festival and the charity organization, MediCinema Ireland.

Niamh McCaul

General Manager Ireland, Paramount Pictures

Niamh McCaul - Paramount Pictures

Niamh McCaul has been an active member of the film distribution community in Ireland since finishing her studies in the mid-1990s. McCaul celebrated 15 years with Paramount Pictures this year as General Manager for Ireland. She previously worked at Eclipse Pictures as Managing Director since its inception in 2002. In addition to her current role, she also serves as Chair of the Women + ERG in London and is Fundraising Chair for the Cinema Trade Benevolent Fund, an Irish charity. Most recently, McCaul was honored to work with Showtime & Tara Films to release the acclaimed documentary “Nothing Compares”, which won the George Morrison Feature Documentary at the 2023 Irish Film and Television Academy Awards.

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Montserrat Gil

VP & Managing Director, Paramount Pictures Spain

Montserrat Gil - Paramount Pictures

Montse Gil is a senior entertainment executive with more than 25 years in the movie business. She has been a part of distributing over 500 movies in Spain – first, at 20th Century Fox where she headed up the marketing department since 1995 and now as the Vice President and Managing Director of Paramount Pictures, a position she has held since 2010. Gil was voted one of the 100 most influential women in Spain and is the only woman running a multinational film distribution company in Spain. She has collaborated with UNIC’s Women Leadership Program, where she participated as a mentor. Gil is a graduate in Media Communications, holds a PhD in Marketing and Research and a Master’s in Business Administration. She is a regular lecturer at various Master’s programs at several universities.

Celluloid Junkie - 43

Amy Wood

VP, Global Theatrical Distribution, Crunchyroll

Based in Los Angeles, Amy Wood is in her second year as Vice President of Global Theatrical Distribution at Crunchyroll. In 2023, she was responsible for managing the distribution of anime releases such as “Suzume,” “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba” and “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime.” Wood heads up teams in North America, Australia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. She previously spent 10 years at Lionsgate in charge of international distribution. Prior to Lionsgate, Wood spent eight years at Pacific and Arclight Theatres leading their marketing teams.

Celluloid Junkie - 44

Liz Ellis

Chief Operating Officer, Angel Studios

Liz Ellis - Angel Studios

If ever there was a year that Angel Studios made a name for themselves, it would be 2023, when its release “Sound of Freedom” became the surprise hit of the summer earning over USD $180 million domestically before launching in territories around the globe. Liz Ellis is the Chief Operating Officer at Angel Studios, where she has undertaken transformative initiatives that have increased productivity within the company by aligning talents with suitable projects and roles. She is an esteemed Professional Certified Coach (ICF) and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and she implemented solutions-based coaching at Angel Studios.

Celluloid Junkie - 45

Ladun Awobokun

General Manager, FilmOne Entertainment

Ladun Awobokun

Promoted to General Manager at FilmOne Entertainment at the beginning of 2023, Ladun Awobokun drives content strategy for the business, including; distribution, content sales and acquisitions, investment management, streaming, as well as cinema and movie studio relations. Awobokun’s staff manages the release plans and strategies for Hollywood studio films throughout English-speaking West Africa. Naturally, FilmOne also handles locally produced Nollywood titles. She is known for having fostered standardization and transparency in West Africa’s movie industry and was instrumental in getting Comscore adopted throughout the region.

Celluloid Junkie - 46

Elba McAllister

CEO, Cineplex (Colombia)

Elba McAllister - Cineplex

Cineplex, an independent distributor based in Colombia, celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2023. The company releases independent arthouse films in 20 countries, mostly in Latin America. Elba McAllister, the company’s CEO and founder, has shepherded over 500 movies into cinemas including “The Delinquents” from Argentina and “Fallen Leaves” from Finland this year. On average, Cineplex releases 25 films per year. While she has handled the distribution of releases from directors such as Ang Lee, Ken Loach, Wong Kar Wai, and Lars von Trier over the years, McAllister may be best known for introducing Colombian titles to the wider world.

Celluloid Junkie - 47

Yolanda Del Val

Fiction Department Director, DeAPlaneta Entertainment (Spain)

With more than 25 years’ experience in the audiovisual sector, Yolanda Del Val has been managing the Fiction Department of DeAPlaneta Entertainment since 2017. As well as being in charge of film and television distribution, Del Val also oversees production of the same. During her time in this role, she has acquired and distributed more than 1,000 film and TV titles, including “The Pianist” (Roman Polanski), “The King’s Speech,” “12 Years a Slave,” as well as Spanish hits like “Planet 51,” “La Llamada” and the “Baztan Trilogy.” In the last three years Del Val has co-produced three films:  “¿Quién es Quien?”, “The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan” and “The Three Musketeers: Milady.”

Celluloid Junkie - 48

Eve Gabereau

Founder & CEO, Modern Films

Eve Gabereau - Modern Films

Eve Gabereau is CEO and founder of Modern Films, a London-based film production and distribution agency. Known for championing diverse stories and world cinema, Modern has grown since launching in 2017 to represent over 100 films, including such acclaimed titles as the history-making Oscar and BAFTA winner “Drive My Car” from director Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Gabereau has built a reputation for her great cinematic taste, having previously co-founded the indie distribution company Soda Pictures where, for 15 years, she handled over 350 noteworthy films such as “Toni Erdmann,” Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson” and multiple works by filmmaker Kelly Reichardt. She is an Inside Pictures alumnus, a member of the British Screen Forum, Film Distributors Association and Europa Distribution and on the boards of ACE Producers, Film London and the British Independent Film Awards.

Celluloid Junkie - 49

Claudia Badoer

Managing Partner, Filmcoopi Zurich

Claudia Badoer - Filmcoopi Zurich

Claudia Badoer has been with Filmcoopi Zurich as one of its co-owners and co-managers. Filmcoopi Zurich is an independent distributor of high-end arthouse films as well as internationally-acclaimed documentaries. The company releases an average of 45 titles per year and in 2023 handled the Swiss distribution of “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Zone of Interest” and “Past Lives” among others. As part of her release campaigns, Badoer is constantly looking for innovative ways to reach audiences in Switzerland and to attract a younger audience for independent film. She is a board member of the Swiss national distributors association as well as of Europa Distribution.

Celluloid Junkie - 50

Alice Panada

Head of Theatrical Distribution, Notorious Pictures

Alice Panada - Notorious Pictures

Alice Panada started working with Notorious Pictures in 2017 as the company’s Theatrical Marketing Director before becoming Head of Theatrical Distribution in 2022. Notorious Pictures distributes local productions and studio releases in Italy and Spain and during 2023 handled titles such as “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” and “Jeanne du Barry” for those territories. Panada is responsible for the company’s distribution strategy, release planning, budget management, market analysis and even exhibitor relations. She is active in helping Notorious in acquiring new films for theatrical distribution and streaming platforms. Panada began her working in theatrical marketing for The Walt Disney Company.

J. Sperling Reich