Beverly Hills, March 5 -- Steven Spielberg won Saturday the coveted Directors Guild Award for his acclaimed Holocaust epic 'Schindler's List,' a personal and professional triumph.
Spielberg was heavily favored to win the prize, which according to trends, makes him most likely to win the directing Academy Award on March 21.
The 1,200 people at the Beverly Hills banquet gave him a lengthy standing ovation with cheers and whistles as he accepted the heavy gold plate from last year's winner Clint Eastwood.
Spielberg said when he first read the book about German businessman Oskar Schindler who saved more than 1,000 Jews from death in concentration camps, he thought many other directors would be better than he at bringing it to the screen.
'I had no idea that this would be something I had to make, that it was my duty to make, as a filmmaker and a Jew,' he said.
Spielberg said the response he has received from moviegoers showed him film as a medium is capable of changing people, of making them 'go beyond the popcorn barrel.'
In wining his second DGA Award since 'The Color Purple' in 1985, Spielberg beat Jane Campion ('The Piano'), Andrew Davis ('The Fugitive'), Martin Scorsese ('The Age of Innocence') and James Ivory ('The Remains of the Day').
The DGA winner has failed only three times to take home the Oscar in the directing award's 46-year history. Spielberg is one of the directors with that dubious distinction on his record.
The feature film award capped the annual Directors Guildof America Awards in which its 10,000 members saluted 1993's best works in film and television.
Other winners included:
-- Dramatic Specials: Michael Ritchie, 'The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom.'
-- TV Comedy: James Burrows, 'Frasier: The Good Son.'
-- Dramatic Series, Night: Gregory Hoblit, 'NYPD Blue' pilot.
-- Musical Variety Show: Jeff Margolis, '65th Annual Academy Awards.'
-- Documentary: Barbara Kopple, 'Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson.'
-- Daytime Serials: Jill Mitwell, 'One Life to Live.'
-- Commercials: James Gartner, for Federal Express and ATT.
-- D.W. Griffith Award: Robert Altman.
-- Robert B. Aldrich Award: Burt Bluestein.
-- Sports Award: Doug Wilson.