Industry veteran Robbie Little, co-president of The Little Film Company, has died unexpectedly en route to the Cannes Film Festival. Little passed away in London of a suspected heart attack, his colleagues and friends have confirmed to Deadline.

Little launched his well-known sales and marketing outfit with his wife Ellen, and executive produced the company’s first film, Tsotsi, which won the 2006 Oscar for Best Foreign Language film.

Previously, the well-traveled and well-liked exec established First Look Media to package finance and distribute movies in the domestic market. As President and Co-Chairman of First Look Media, he created First Look Home Entertainment, the company’s own video/DVD distribution division, which grew into a well known indie label.

Over the span of his career, he worked on movies including Waking Ned Devine, An American Haunting, Before Night Falls, Titus, Illuminata, The Prophecy film franchise, and Antonia’s Line (winner of the 1995 Oscar for Best Foreign Language film).

Born and raised in England, Little started in the film business while living in Rome, Italy, where he made the first major sale of a Bruce Lee film outside of the Far East to Titanus Distribution. He then later joined Titanus and eventually headed the company’s foreign sales division. In 1980, he and Ellen moved to Los Angeles and co-founded their first company, Overseas Filmgroup.

Jean Prewitt, President & CEO of Independent Film and Television Alliance, said, “Robbie was one of the small group of far-sighted sales agents who created IFTA and launched the AFM in 1980 and he remained a valued and outspoken member of our community. We grieve the loss of his love of film, his sarcastic wit, and his loyalty to the independent industry he helped build.”

Michael Ryan, Partner, GFM Films, and Chairman of IFTA, added, “I was truly saddened to hear the news about Robbie this morning.  Robbie was an original and a pioneer. When we had the idea to start the AFM which morphed eventually into the Association we have today, Robbie was one of the first to jump in with his investment. He then served on many of the boards as the AFM and IFTA grew. Not many people know he was a good bass player and coming from Liverpool, was there when those four boys rocked the world. We will miss his impish humour and his championing of the independent film family. My thoughts and love go out to Ellen and his family.”

In Cannes, Little was due to sell Timothy Spall movie Mrs Lowry And Son and Jo Brand title The More You Ignore Me. A passionate Liverpool fan, his colleagues remarked that he was looking forward to cheering on his beloved team in the final of the Champions League later this month. Little is survived by his wife Ellen.