French Filmmaker Claude Miller Dies at 70

Claude Miller - P 2012
Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Claude Miller - P 2012

The French film industry mourns the death of the writer, director and producer after his prolific career spanning more than 50 years.

Thursday was a sad day for France’s film community when it was confirmed that famed director Claude Miller died after a long illness. The director, writer and producer died Wednesday. He was 70.

Miller boasted an extensive filmography of 16 feature films including La Petite Voleuse and L’Effrontee that featured a young Charlotte Gainsbourg. Before heading behind the camera himself, Miller worked for several notable New Wave directors like Jacques Demy, Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard.

He made his first film The Best Way to Walk in 1976 before sauntering his way through France’s cinema business with a series of acclaimed films including 1998 title Class Trip which won him the jury prize at the Festival de Cannes that year.

Miller drew on his personal family history for A Secret, the story of a Jewish couple’s survival in Paris during the Holocaust. Miller was born into a Jewish family in Paris suburb Montreuil in 1942 and Miller credits his father’s refusing to wear the star of David during World War II for saving the family from deportation.

Miller was always respected by France’s prestigious film community and the director earned several Cesar award nominations over the years. His 1981 title Garde a vue got a Hollywood makeover in 2000 film Under Suspicion starring Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman. In addition to Gainsbourg, Miller worked with several top Gallic talents including Isabelle Adjani, Michel Serrault and Gerard Depardieu.

His last project was an adaptation of Francois Mauriac’s novel Therese Desqueyroux starring Audrey Tautou and Gilles Lellouche that will be released in France in the fall. “I’ll always remember his passion and his courage,” Lellouche told Premiere magazine upon hearing the news, adding: “He was sick on set, but he never let it get him down; it was impressive to see him fight against the illness. He took his medicine, but refused to concede defeat, refused to abandon his film and his actors. That showed just what kind of man he was.” 

President of France’s film Academy Alain Terzian told Gallic TV on Wednesday that Miller was “an immense filmmaker who defined 30 years of French cinema.” 

Miller is survived by his wife Annie and son Nathan, with whom he co-directed 2009 release  I'm Glad that my Mother is Alive.