April 5, 2012 / 8:32 PM / 5 years ago

Claude Miller, director of "La Petite Voleuse", dies at 70

File photo of French film director Claude Miller with his wife at the opening ceremony of the 10th International Marrakesh Film Festival December 3, 2010.Jean Blondin/Files

PARIS (Reuters) - Claude Miller, a French director best known for discovering young actress Charlotte Gainsbourg in the 1985 film "La Petite Voleuse", has died at the age of 70 after a long illness, one of his production companies said on Thursday.

A student of "Nouvelle Vague" directors Robert Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, Miller carried their artistic approach into the 21st century, writing, directing and producing dozens of films.

Miller, the son of a movie theatre employee in Paris, started his career in the 1960s as an assistant director for Marcel Carme and released his first feature film, "The Best Way to Walk", in 1976.

In France, Miller is best remembered for revealing Gainsbourg, then aged 17, as a compulsive teenaged thief in "La Petite Voleuse", as well as his 1981 film "Garde a vue", which won Cesar awards for Best Writing, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.

"A true humanist, Claude Miller managed to reconcile both the public and critics around his works, which explored the human soul in a careful, anxious but benevolent way," the Elysee presidential palace said in a statement.

Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; editing by Ron Askew

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