Jane Campion, film-maker, 1954
Twenty-five years ago, Dame Jane Campion made history when she became the first woman to win the prestigious Palme D’Or film award at the Cannes Film Festival for her film The Piano. Today, she remains the only woman to have won the prize.
The Piano also saw her become just the second woman in history to be nominated for Best Director at the Oscars, as well as winning her the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
In New Zealand, Campion was already well known for bringing the harrowing tale of author Janet Frame to the small screen in 1990, with the mini-series An Angel at My Table. The result was so powerful it was packaged as a feature film and given an international theatrical release.
Campion’s film career began 10 years earlier, when she released her first short film, Tissues, before attending the Australian Film,
Campion has focused on bringing the female gaze to our screens.
Television and Radio School. While there, she made several more short films, including Peel, which won the Short Film Palme D’Or at Cannes in 1986.
In 2014, Campion returned to Cannes as president of the film festival jury, becoming the first New Zealander to hold the prestigious role.
From her first feature, Sweetie, in 1989, through to her most recent work directing the acclaimed television series Top of the Lake, Campion has focused on bringing the female gaze to our screens. As she explained in an interview with Variety last year: “We’re a long way from really understanding the female experience of being in the world. There’s not enough female storytellers out there.
“We’ve been brainwashed a bit by the patriarchal experience of the whole way of being in the world.”
Jane Campion is the only woman to have won the Palme D’Or.