The film industry lost a luminary this month with the passing of Hengameh Panahi, the visionary French-Iranian producer who championed audacious voices in world cinema. She was 67 years old.
Over her 30+ year career, Panahi made an indelible mark by uplifting new directorial talent and backing films with provocative perspectives. As founder of the sales company Celluloid Dreams in 1993, later rebranded as Directors Label, she established vital creative partnerships and co-production deals with trailblazing international auteurs.
Among the most acclaimed projects she helped nurture were Jafar Panahi’s Golden Bear winner Taxi Tehran, Jacques Audiard’s Palme d’Or recipient Dheepan, Marjane Satrapi’s Cannes selection Persepolis, and Ramin Bahrani’s Venice entry From Afar. Even in recent years, Panahi executive produced Brandon Cronenberg’s 2022 sci-fi Infinity Pool.
While known for her formidable business savvy, Panahi’s passion shone through close bonds with filmmakers she considered partners. She served as a conduit between Iranian cinema and the West. Her discerning eye for rising voices was unmatched.
Panahi’s sudden passing on November 5, 2022, after illness leaves a void in global independent film. But her legacy of uplifting bold visions, bridging cultures, and pushing arthouse cinema forward through the force of personality and relationships will continue inspiring generations. The film community will miss her fiercely. Source