La La Land's Chazelle wins the big prize at Directors Guild of America Awards
The musical wins another big award on the road to the Oscars, as Damien Chazelle becomes the youngest winner of the main prize.
La La Land film-maker Damien Chazelle has danced off with the top honour at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards.
Chazelle, who directed the musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, won the gong for best feature film and, at 32, is the youngest ever recipient.
Twelve of the last 13 winners have gone on to win best director at the Oscars.
La La Land has earned a record-equalling 14 nominations for Hollywood's big night on 26 February.
Chazelle told the star-studded DGA ceremony in Los Angeles: "I'm a movie maker because I love movies. I was three years old watching Cinderella on loop.
"I felt that movies were powerful because they speak to everyone: all countries all cultures."
Gosling, who attended the awards with co-star Stone, said Chazelle had "great vision, unbridled creativity and is a real collaborator".
Before presenting the award to Chazelle, Alejandro Inarritu, the Oscar-winning director of Birdman and The Revenant, appeared to take aim at US President Donald Trump's administration.
He said: "We all know the story being written now is really, really bad," he said on stage.
"Actually it's a bad remake of one of the worst stories of the last century.
"The only way we win is by telling good, complex and truthful human stories. No alternative facts or false statistics will defeat that."
British director Sir Ridley Scott was also presented with a lifetime achievement award by actor Michael Fassbender.
The Alien director, 79, said: "My fellow directors, I salute you. Do try to raise the bar and most importantly, try not to punch anyone because I've come close quite a few times."
Elsewhere, Australian director Garth Davis won the award for first-time feature film for his drama Lion, which tells the true story of a young man who was adopted in Australia and uses Google Earth to trace his family in India.
The film has earned Oscar nominations for its stars Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman.
There were other British successes as Miguel Sapochnik won the DGA award for dramatic series for Game Of Thrones, while Becky Martin collected the gong for a comedy series for her work on the political satire Veep.