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Foxcatcher’s Bennett Miller pins down best director award at Cannes

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Bennett Miller was among the honorees at the awards presentation concluding the Cannes Film Festival Saturday night, receiving the best director award for his much-anticipated “Foxcatcher.”

The film, which premiered at Cannes Monday to rave reviews, tells the story of 1984 Olympic gold medal-winning wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz and their involvement at the Foxcatcher training facility run by multimillionaire John du Pont who murdered Dave in January 1996. “Foxcatcher” stars Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz, Mark Ruffalo as older brother Dave, and Steve Carell in the role of du Pont.

The director thanked his trio of stars, along with Megan Ellison, whose Annapurna Films was “Foxcatcher’s” key backer. "It's really something to be supported, and to have people who have faith in you, and to come out the other side," Miller said as he was presented with the best director award.

After accepting the award, Miller lavished praise on each of the main stars of the film, starting with Carell, whose career has mostly centered on comedic roles in movies and TV, most notably, the U.S. version of the sitcom “The Office.”

"I wonder if it can really be communicated how courageous that is to show up knowing that the survivors of the family and the people who lived the story are going to be around set, and that the movie is going to be scrutinized," Miller told reporters, in reference to Mark Schultz and Dave’s widow Nancy visiting the set during the filming.

Miller also praised Tatum and Ruffalo, adding he never wanted to make a film without the latter, who "is an amazing actor" and "an amazing person."

It is only the third feature film for the 47-year-old Miller, who directed “Capote” in 2005 – a biography of writer Truman Capote -- and the 2011 baseball drama “Moneyball”, both which earned numerous awards, including a Best Actor Oscar for Philip Seymour Hoffman, Miller’s long-time friend, in the title role. Hoffman died in early February at age 46.

Other major awards were also presented Saturday night. Best actor honors went to Timothy Spall in his portrayal of 19th century British painter J.M.W. Turner in Mike Leigh’s “Mr. Turner”, while Julianne Moore was named best actress for her role in “Maps to the Stars” which was directed by David Cronenberg. The Palme d’Or for best picture was presented to Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan for his 3 hour, 16 minute film “Winter Sleep”.

“Foxcatcher” is scheduled to open in U.S. theaters on November 14.

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