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Céline Petit, a revered French publicist who worked at the Public Systeme Cinema on a number of festivals, died on Friday due to illness. She was 45.

Petit’s death was confirmed by Bruno Barde, the managing director of the Public Systeme Cinema, where she worked for 18 years. Petit was in charge of the press relations at the Public Systeme, a French PR firm that organizes key film events such as the Deauville and Beaune festivals. She worked closely with talents such as filmmakers Nicolas Winding Refn and Park Chan-wook.

“We loved her like a daughter, like a friend, like a sister. She worked by our side for 18 years and the Public Systeme Cinema was part of her family…Celine, in her work, refused to give in to the mediocrity and championed films which she was in charge of, with the fighting spirit and the track record of a thriving professional,” said Barde in a tribute.

“Through her work, either supporting festivals or films, she triggered the admiration of others with the way she preserved to reach excellence. Nicolas Winding Refn, Park Chan-wook, Hideo Nakata, Fatih Akin, Bong Joon Ho, Brillante Mendoza, Jaume Balagueró owe her a part of their notoriety,” added Barde.

Many industry figures paid homage to Petit over the weekend, notably the French distributors Manuel Chiche at The Jokers and Jean Labadie at Le Pacte.

“Céline Petit left us. With her is gone a part of our professional life. With her fierceness, her professionalism, her kindness, she gave all her energy to the auteurs we championed,” said Chiche, who added that Petit was an “ally of Nicolas Winding Refn, Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon Ho and Ryan Gosling, among others.” “Céline was also, beyond everything, my friend. Today my heart is broken,” said Chiche in a letter.

Labadie wrote on Twitter that he felt an “immense sadness” upon hearing of her passing.

The French filmmaker and author Stephane Foenkinos also paid her tribute on Twitter.