Protagonist Pictures has promoted senior execs Janina Vilsmaier and Mounia Wissinger to senior leadership roles as part of a wider move to strengthen its sales and marketing teams.
Vilsmaier has been upped to SVP Sales and Distribution and Wissinger becomes SVP Global Marketing and Publicity.
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Protagonist made the announcement as it gears up for the Berlinale and the EFM, where its slate will include Nora Fingscheidt’s Panorama title The Outrun, starring Saoirse Ronan and Paapa Essiedu, and David and Nathan Zellner’s Berlinale Special selection Sasquatch Sunset with Riley Keough and Jesse Eisenberg, which makes its European premiere after a Sundance debut.
Under the promotions, Vilsmaier will lead the sales division, overseeing both the first run and library sales activities, and work in partnership with Wissinger to strategize the global roll out of Protagonist titles.
Wissinger will head up the marketing and publicity team, including overseeing the festival strategy for Protagonist’s film slate.
Both will report directly into Chief Commercial Officer George Hamilton.
In an expansion of the sales team, Lina Marrone, will remain at Protagonist, having initially joining as maternity cover, taking up the permanent position of Head of Sales and reporting into Vilsmaier.
Vilsmaier was previously Director of Sales at Hanway before joining Protagonist in 2020.
Prior to joining the company in 2018, Wissinger held marketing and publicity positions at Netflix and Studiocanal International.
Following a 20-year tenure at Arclight Films where she was the Executive Vice President of Sales, Marrone moved over to Protagonist Pictures in 2022. Marrone’s career includes senior sales roles at Iberoamericana/Lola Films and Canada’s Behavior Media.
“The past few years have again proven how vital a role sales continue to play in the independent film finance ecosystem, especially international,” says CCO George Hamilton.
“Janina’s dynamic leadership, combined with Lina’s wealth of knowledge and relationships are a potent and powerful mix. We are so happy Lina agreed to stay at Protagonist.”
He also commented on Wissinger contribution to team.
“Hugely respected throughout the industry, Mounia’s oversight and vision across marketing, publicity and festivals is a true asset. I could think of no better team of executives to both maximize the opportunities and overcome the challenges that lie ahead.”
The promotions and permanent hiring of Marrone are part of a wider reorganization of Protagonist’s staffing structure.
Additional changes in the sales team see Alexandra da Silva moving back to managing first run titles in key markets including Asia, as Isabel Ivars returns to handle second run sales. Max Mepsted has been brought on board to provide additional support to the sales team.
Boosting the marketing and publicity team, Leni Jaeger has been promoted to Marketing, Festivals and Publicity Coordinator, and new hire Connor Day will take on the role of Marketing, Distribution and Publicity Coordinator, with both reporting to Wissinger.
“As Protagonist has continued its steady evolution, expanding into an independent full-service sales, finance and production company, we rely on our talented executives to achieve our goals,” said CEO Dave Bishop.
“The new structure not only doubles down on our commitment to global sales but also allows us to keep growing the business further into new areas.”
Further titles on Protagonist’s sales slate also include Thordur Palsson’s elevated horror The Damned, starring Odessa Young and Joe Cole; ensemble comedy Rumours, directed by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson, and led by Cate Blanchett and Alicia Vikander; Summer Camp, with Diane Keaton, Kathy Bates, Alfre Woodward and Eugene Levy; thriller Berlin Nobody, with Eric Bana and Sadie Sink; coming of age thriller Spirit in the Blood by C. May Borgstrom; Nick Moore’s romcom This Time Next Year, adapted from the NYT eponymous bestseller, starring Lucien Laviscount and Sophie Cookson.
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