'Tsotsi' Producer and Sales Agent Robbie Little Dies at 73

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Robbie Little with producer Kristina Dubin (left) and Ellen Pittleman in 2015

The co-president of The Little Film Company worked on titles including 'Waking Ned Devine,' 'An American Haunting' and 'Before Night Falls.'

Tsotsi executive producer and The Little Company co-president Robbie Little has died. Little was in London on his way to the Cannes Film Festival at the time; the cause of death has not yet been determined. He was 73.

Little is perhaps best-known for executive producing Tsotsi, which won the 2006 best foreign language film Oscar for South Africa. He was also well-known to the film world as the co-president of The Little Film Company, a worldwide film sales and marketing shingle that he founded with his wife of 44 years, Ellen, and whose first film was Tsotsi. At the company, Little also executive produced and sold the Leo Tolstoy drama The Last StationThe Eye of the Storm starring Charlotte Ramping and Geoffrey Rush, the Scott Glenn vehicle The Barber and the Steve Coogan film Northern Soul, among other titles. 

Across his career, Little financed, produced and/or distributed over 300 films with Ellen, including Kirk Jones' BAFTA nominee Waking Ned Devine, John Sayles' The Secret of Roan Inish, the Pierce Brosnan-starrer Evelyn, Julian Schnabel's Before Night FallsA Map of the World starring Sigourney Weaver and Julianne Moore and the Sophia Loren and Mira Sorvino drama Between Strangers. Little also executive produced the 2005 horror film An American Haunting, the Christopher Walken action film The Prophecy and the Sissy Spacek comedy Trading Mom.

Born in Liverpool, England, Little got his break in the film business during a stint in Rome, where he is credited with selling a Bruce Lee film for the first time outside the Eastern hemisphere to Titanus Distribution. Little later headed foreign film sales for Titanus and met Ellen when she was a Harvard graduate student studying Renaissance art and architecture on a Fullbright scholarship.

In 1980, the couple moved to Los Angeles, where they founded the foreign sales and production company The Overseas Filmgroup. The pair later launched First Look Media, where they packaged, financed and distributed within the U.S.

Alongside Ellen, Little is a founding member of the Independent Film and Television Alliance and The Archive Council, an industry support group for the University of California Los Angeles' Film & Television Archive. The Littles also support the Antonio David Blanco Scholarship Fund at UCLA and scholarship funds in the name of Irvin Shapiro and Walter Manley at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

Little was set to head off to the Cannes Film Festival at the time of his death, where he was selling the Timothy Spall-starring Mrs. Lowery and Son and The More You Ignore Me.

He is survived by Little Company co-president and wife Ellen.

In lieu of flowers, well wishers are being asked to donate to The Ginny Fund and DAWGSnTEXAS, both of which serve animals in need. Little was a lifelong animal lover, his wife said, and "he would be so pleased if people donated in his memory to either" non-profit organization.

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