The senior vice president of global marketing and publicity. at UK sales outfit Protagonist Pictures talks about the women who have supported her, favourite festivals, and why she loves Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy.

Mounia Wissinger

Source: Screen file

Mounia Wissinger

Multi-­linguist Mounia Wissinger has lived in Germany, Tunisia, France and the Netherlands, and is currently based in the UK where she has led Protagonist Pictures’ marketing, distribution and publicity strategy since 2018. She started her career as acquisitions assistant at French sales agent mk2 Films and held publicity posts at Netflix’s Amsterdam HQ and Studio­canal in Paris.

Protagonist’s slate includes two titles that played at both Sundance and Berlin: Sasquatch Sunset from directors David Zellner and Nathan Zellner and starring Riley Keough and Jesse Eisenberg, plus Nora Fing­scheidt’s The Outrun, starring Saoirse Ronan.

What is your office like?
It’s a nice open space. In theory we are hot-­desking. In practice, definitely not, we all have our slots. It’s near Oxford Circus in London. I come in four days a week to be with my team — it’s not mandatory but I find it easier to be around them and frankly, I like the people in my office, and I like to hang out with them.

What are you most proud of professionally?
When I have junior people in my team who grow so much that another company comes and steals them from me.

What’s the biggest professional mistake you have made?
Not trusting my gut during a job interview. I shouldn’t have taken a job, because I knew I wouldn’t have enough work-life balance — at a time when I was already too senior to make that mistake.

Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
A lot of women from the next generation [up]. When I started in the industry, it wasn’t the healthiest work culture, there was a lot of toxic male behaviour of stepping on other people’s heads to make your way up. That was what it was like in the French industry. Then I met women, and some men, who showed me you could be extremely successful in your job but also show kindness and treat people well.

I’m quite lucky I met these women early enough, otherwise I would not have stayed in the industry that long. It’s difficult to single one out, but with Jane Carter [then executive vice president, international marketing] at Studiocanal I really felt the difference because she was my manager, and I was becoming a manager at that time. I don’t know if she realises how much I learnt from working with her.

What was your favourite film growing up?
I grew up in Tunisia, where we all watched Italian TV and spoke Italian. There were a lot of reruns of Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. Up until I was 15 or 16 years old, I was convinced they were all Italian. I loved these films.

Favourite film festival?
Cannes, because I get to see a lot of people I never see otherwise. I love the Berlinale because I have family in Berlin. And a favourite festival just for work reasons would be San Sebastian because that’s the only festival where I actually have time to watch things. Amazing food, amazing location and a great line-up.

Where would you like to be in five years from now?
In Hawaii, there is a cat shelter. I’d like to be there, looking after the cats.

What job would you do if you didn’t work in film?
Cat shelter [laughs]. I majored in international politics with a focus on nuclear policies, which comes in handy on the red carpet when there’s a crisis. Or I would work for an inter­national organisation with refugees.

What do you do to unwind?
I cook, I write, I paint — all badly. I’m not good at any of this, but I like it.

Who would play you in a biopic of your life and who would direct?
Willem Dafoe for the mixture of weirdness and darkness — I’m crying and laughing at the same time. For director, the obvious answer would be David Lynch, but the production designer would be Wes Anderson. Nice colour palettes and symmetry.