UPDATED with Cannes Film Festival statement, writethru: The international industry is digesting the sudden news that veteran French distributor and producer Samuel Hadida died following a short illness on Monday at the age of 64. Reactions have streamed in about a man who folks agree was passionate, joyful and one-of-a-kind (see tweets below).

FilmNation chief Glen Basner tells Deadline this morning, “I love Sammy and will miss him dearly. His enthusiasm and passion for all things made him larger-than-life, but it also applied to our friendship that made it more meaningful and have more depth. It was familial and what I will miss most.”

Indeed, I recall one recent Cannes Film Festival which was so plagued by rain that execs were doing deals on their phones from hotel lobbies. When I ran into Hadida in the Majestic, he told me he’d just closed a film with Basner but wouldn’t feel it was done until he could hug him in person.

The Cannes Festival itself said today that it “joins the entire profession in regretting the immense loss of Samuel Hadida.” The fest calls the “passionate” Hadida “an essential producer and distributor and friend.” French industry body ARP added Hadida “has given unwavering support to the diversity of creation and independent cinema.”

Hadida was a pillar of the international business and an early champion of filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary and Christophe Gans. Since its inception, Metropolitan FilmExport, the Paris-based distributor Hadida founded with his brother Victor and their father David, bridged a gap between France and the U.S. via long-term output deals with such companies as New Line Cinema (which included the Lord Of The Rings trilogy), Lionsgate (the Hunger Games franchise) and DreamWorks, as well as making individual offshore pick-ups and releasing local titles.

Hadida’s vast producing credits include the Resident Evil and Silent Hill franchises; the Tony Scott-directed/Tarantino-scripted True Romance; Claude Lelouch’s Un+Une and The Best Years (which just wrapped); The Hitman’s Bodyguard; and, back in 2001, the first French superproduction made in the Hollywood vein, Brotherhood Of The Wolf, which Universal released domestically. He had several film in various stages of production at the time of his death.

Martin Moszkowicz, boss of Resident Evil producer Constantin Film, tells me today, “Samuel was one of a kind when it came to passion and love of movies and joy of life. He never quit and he never gave up. He was a movie junkie. I will miss him dearly.”

Hadida seemed infinitely tireless and his passing comes way too soon. I first met him on the first Friday of my first Cannes Film Festival in 1998. He was hosting a dinner party for New Line’s Dark City which Metro was distributing in France. An infectious character, with an impish grin and twinkling eyes, he charmed his guests with a silly parlor trick that we still laughed about years later.

A ubiquitous presence at festivals, Hadida was inseparable from his dear brother Victor who runs the distribution side of Metro and is President of France’s National Federation of Film Distributors as well as film industry liaison body the BLIC. It was Victor who announced Samuel’s passing on Tuesday, saying, “Sammy’s passion and humor were infectious and his larger-than-life presence will certainly be missed. We are committed to honoring his life by bringing to fruition the numerous development projects under the Davis Films banner that Samuel so loved as well as the upcoming productions that were so important to him.”

Here are some reactions:

Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval calls Hadida “a man of cinema who left his mark on the history of his metier” and one who will leave “an immense void”:

Mars Films’ Stéphane Célérier offers “immense respect for this out-of-the-ordinary life”:

Paris’ famed Grand Rex cinema says Hadida was “an intimate friend”:

Filmmaker Caroline Fourest says without Hadida and his team at Metropolitan, her most recent feature “would never have existed. He believed in us and carried us”: