Palmes d’or and Oscars, the prizes pile up on the shelves of Jane Campion, director and pioneer of modern cinema. Of Ia Piano lesson (1993) at The Power of the Dog (2022), the director is dedicated to paying homage to strong female characters and playing with the ambiguity and complexity that make up human relationships.
In 35 years, Jane Campion has shot nine feature films. Portrait.
Daughter of artists and a clear path
Jane Campion was born on April 30, 1954 in New Zealand. Her family is steeped in the artistic world: her father is a theater director and her mother is an actress. But she does not immediately choose this voice.
In 1975, she obtained a degree in anthropology. But her artistic fiber and the appeal of the cinema got the better of her. Jane Campion studied at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.
For her studies, in 1986 she made a first short film, Peel, discipline exercise. The 9-minute story can be summed up as follows: a father, his sister and his son, on a trip, stop by the side of the road for a story of peeling. Already, the style and the writing of the young director are noticed.
With Peel, Jane Campion won the Palme d’or for short film at Cannes the same year. A first prize that will bring others.
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Collaborations with the cream of Hollywood
Then in 1993, Jane Campion made a name for herself in the world of cinema with her film The piano lesson. This passionate drama with Holly Hunter, Sam Neill and Harvey Keitel earned him the Palme d’Or at Cannes. She is the first woman to win this award.
The film receives many other prizes which reward the actors as well as the director and screenwriter. Jane Campion won the César for best foreign film as well as the Oscar for best original screenplay.
His career is launched. She continues the achievements and collaborations with the Hollywood elite. She works in particular with Nicole Kidman for portrait of a woman in 1996, adaptation of the novel by Henry James.
Then she directed Kate Winslet and, again Harvey Keitel, in 1999 in Holy Smoke. In 2003, for his erotic thriller In the Cut, it appeals to actor Mark Ruffalo and actress Meg Ryan.
After a first break, she returned in 2009 with Bright Star which tells the story and the loves of the poet John Keats. A film that she writes, produces and directs.
Then, Jane Campion takes a long break from feature films. A station wagon of exactly 11 years. She still directs the series Top of the Lake, broadcast from March 2013. The second season, also divided into 6 episodes, was broadcast in 2017.
She made her big comeback to the cinema by realizing The Power of the Dog. A Netflix production, released in 2021, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst.
A western about toxic masculinity for which Jane Campion won the Silver Lion for Best Director at the last Venice Film Festival as well as the Golden Globes for Best Director and Best Dramatic Film.
The Power of the Dog is also nominated for the 2022 Oscars in categories such as: Best Film, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Decor, Best Film Music… The ceremony takes place on March 27, 2022.
Jury and president for prestigious festivals
Her many successes as a director make her an essential name in the film industry. His expertise and his perspective are highly respected.
Thus, she was a member of the jury of the Venice Film Festival in 2007. A few years earlier, she had chaired the jury of the 54th Venice Film Festival.
In 2014, Jane Campion was chosen to be the new president of the jury for the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival. She succeeds Steven Spielberg. 21 years after becoming the first director to receive the Palme d’Or, she becomes the first director to chair the jury.
Just before, in 2013, Jane Campion chaired the jury of the Cinéfondation and short filmsalready in Cannes.
The rare women presidents of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival
Marriage and bereavement of a child
From 1992 to 2001, Jane Campion was married to Colin Engilbert.
Together they had their first child in 1993. A boy named Jasper. But their happiness is short-lived. A few days after birth, the baby dies.
A difficult period for the young mother who has just won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for The Piano Lesson.
“Exactly when I won the Palme d’Or, my baby died, so I never felt the full impact of my success. I was grieving, really, all that year. It was a very difficult time, but at the same time it also protected me from excessive thinking. I was just fighting to exist,” she confided to the Guardian.
The couple welcomed their second child in 2014, Alice. The young woman has now become an actress. She collaborated with her mother on season 2 of Top of the Lake.
Jane Campion remains very discreet about her private life and no official information indicates if she is single or if she still shares the life of Colin Engilbert today.
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Jane Campion, a golden director