Hengameh Panahi, the celebrated French-Iranian producer who founded Celluloid Dreams and forged long-standing bonds with auteurs around the world, has died. She was 67.
Panahi, who worked with the likes of Jafar Panahi, Jacques Audiard, Hirokazu Kore-eda and Jia Zhangke, died on Nov. 5 after battling a long illness, according to a statement sent by a film publicist who worked with Panahi for many years.
Panahi was born in Iran and lived in Belgium from the age of 12 before moving to France in 1993. That’s where she founded the sales company Celluloid Dreams and played a major role in co-producing, co-financing and selling international rights to a number of politically minded films, such as Panahi’s Berlinale Golden Bear-winning “Taxi Tehran”; Audiard’s “A Prophet” and his Palme d’Or winning “Dheepan”; Ramin Mohseni’s ”From Afar”; Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis” and “Chicken With Plums”; and Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami’s “Where Is the Friend’s House” and “Close-Up.”
She was known for her fiery personality, stellar taste in movies and remarkable ability to spot promising directors. In recent years, she rebranded Celluloid Dreams into Directors Label, which saw her pursue her work with some of the most revered contemporary filmmakers. She also became more involved in in-house development and production. One of her latest projects was Panahi’s “No Bears,” which won the Grand Prize at Venice in 2022.