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Dame Jane Campion

Jane Campion DNZM (cropped).jpg
Campion in 2016
Elizabeth Jane Campion

(1954-04-30) 30 April 1954 (age 67)
Wellington, New Zealand
Colin David Englert
(m. 1992; div. 2001)
Children2; including Alice Englert
RelativesRichard Campion (father)

Dame Elizabeth Jane Campion DNZM (born 30 April 1954) is a New Zealand screenwriter, producer, and director.[1] She is the second of seven women ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and the first and only female filmmaker to receive the Palme d'Or, which she received for the acclaimed film The Piano (1993), for which she also won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.[2] Among her other directed films An Angel at My Table and Bright Star are the most highly regarded.

Early life

Campion was born in Wellington, New Zealand, the second daughter of Edith Campion (née Beverley Georgette Hannah), an actress, writer, and heiress; and Richard M. Campion, a teacher, and theatre and opera director.[3][4][5] Her maternal great-grandfather was Robert Hannah, a well-known shoe manufacturer for whom Antrim House was built. Her father came from a family engaged in the Exclusive Brethren Christian evangelical movement.[6] Along with her sister Anna, a year and a half her senior, and brother, Michael, seven years her junior, Campion grew up in the world of New Zealand theatre.[4] Their parents founded the New Zealand Players.[7] Campion initially rejected the idea of a career in the dramatic arts, and graduated instead with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Victoria University of Wellington in 1975.[4]

In 1976, she enrolled in the Chelsea Art School in London, and traveled throughout Europe. She earned a graduate diploma in visual arts (painting) from the Sydney College of the Arts at the University of Sydney in 1981. Campion's later film work was shaped in part by her art school education; she has, even in her mature career, cited painter Frida Kahlo and sculptor Joseph Beuys as influences.[4]

Campion's dissatisfaction with the limitations of painting [4] led her to filmmaking and the creation of her first short, Tissues, in 1980. In 1981, she began studying at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, where she made several more short films and graduated in 1984.[8]


Campion's first short film, Peel (1982), won the Short Film Palme d'Or at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival,[9] and other awards followed for the shorts Passionless Moments (1983), A Girl's Own Story (1984), and After Hours (1984). After leaving the Australian Film and Television School, she directed an episode for ABC's light entertainment series Dancing Daze (1986), which led to her first TV film, Two Friends (1986), produced by Jan Chapman.[10]

Her feature debut, Sweetie (1989), won international awards. Further recognition came with An Angel at My Table (1990), a biopic about the life of New Zealand writer Janet Frame, from a screenplay written by Laura Jones. Widespread recognition followed with The Piano (1993), which won the Palme d'Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival,[11] Best Director from the Australian Film Institute, and an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1994. At the 66th Academy Awards, Campion was the second woman ever to be nominated for Best Director.[citation needed]

Campion's subsequent work has tended to polarize opinion. The Portrait of a Lady (1996), based on the Henry James novel, featured Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey and Martin Donovan. Holy Smoke! (1999) teamed Campion again with Harvey Keitel, this time with Kate Winslet as the female lead. In the Cut (2003), an erotic thriller based on Susanna Moore's bestseller, provided Meg Ryan an opportunity to depart from her more familiar onscreen persona. Her 2009 film Bright Star, a biographical drama about poet John Keats (played by Ben Whishaw) and his lover Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), was shown at the Cannes Film Festival.[citation needed] In an interview with Jan Lisa Huttner, Campion discussed how she focused on Fanny's side of the story, pointing out that only two of the film's scenes did not feature her.[12]

Campion created, wrote and directed the TV mini-series Top of the Lake,[13] which received near universal acclaim,[14][15] won numerous awards—including, for its lead actress Elisabeth Moss, a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film and a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Movie/Miniseries—and was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.[16] Campion was also nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special.[17]

She was the head of the jury for the Cinéfondation and Short Film sections at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival[18] and the head of the jury for the main competition section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[19]

When Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan received the Prix du Jury for his film Mommy, he said that Campion's The Piano "...made me want to write roles for women—beautiful women with soul, will and strength, not victims or objects." Campion responded by rising from her seat to give him a hug.[20][21]

In 2014 it was announced that Campion was nearing a deal to direct an adaptation of Rachel Kushner's novel The Flamethrowers.[22][23]

In 2015 Campion confirmed that she would co-direct and co-write a second season of Top of the Lake with the story moved to Sydney and Harbour City, Hong Kong, and with Elisabeth Moss reprising her role as Robin Griffin.[24] The sequel series titled Top of the Lake: China Girl was released in 2017. Shot and set in Sydney, Top of the Lake: China Girl features Alice Englert, Campion's daughter, in a lead role as Robin's biological daughter. The series also features Ewen Leslie, David Dencik and Nicole Kidman.

In 2019 it was announced her first film in a decade, the adaptation of Thomas Savage's novel The Power of the Dog. It will also mark her first time working with a male lead, Benedict Cumberbatch.[25]

Personal life

In 1992, she married Colin David Englert, an Australian who worked as a second unit director on The Piano.[26] Their first child, a son named Jasper, was born in 1993 but lived for only 12 days.[27] Their second child, a daughter named Alice Englert, was born in 1994; she is an actress. The couple divorced in 2001.[28]


From the beginning of her career, Campion's work has received high praise from critics all around. In V.W. Wexman's Jane Campion: Interviews, critic David Thomson describes Campion "as one of the best young directors in the world today."[29] Similarly, in Sue Gillett's "More Than Meets The Eye: The Mediation of Affects in Jane Campion's 'Sweetie'," Campion's work is described as "perhaps the fullest and truest way of being faithful to the reality of experience"; by utilizing the "unsayable" and "unseeable," she manages to catalyze audience speculation.[30] Campion's films tend to gravitate around themes of gender politics, such as seduction and female sexual power. This has led some to label Campion's body of work as feminist. However, Rebecca Flint Marx argues, "while not inaccurate, [the feminist label] fails to fully capture the dilemmas of her characters and the depth of her work."[31]


Campion was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2016 New Year Honours, for services to film.[32][33]


Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer
1980 Tissues Yes Yes Short film
1981 Mishaps of Seduction and Conquest Yes Yes Short film
1982 Peel: An Exercise in Discipline Yes Yes Short film
1983 Passionless Moments Yes Yes Yes Short film
1984 A Girl's Own Story Yes Yes Short film
After Hours Yes Yes Short film
1986 Two Friends Yes Television film
1989 Sweetie Yes Yes Co-written with Gerard Lee
1990 An Angel at My Table Yes
1993 The Piano Yes Yes
1996 The Portrait of a Lady Yes
1999 Holy Smoke! Yes Yes Co-written with Anna Campion
Soft Fruit Yes
2003 In the Cut Yes Yes Co-written with Susanna Moore
2006 The Water Diary Yes Yes Short film
Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story Yes Documentary
2007 The Lady Bug Yes Yes Short film. Segment from To Each His Own Cinema
2009 Bright Star Yes Yes
2012 I'm the One Yes Short film
2013 Top of the Lake Yes Yes Yes Miniseries
Co-directed with Garth Davis
Co-written with Gerard Lee
2016 Family Happiness Yes Short film
2017 They Yes
Top of the Lake: China Girl Yes Yes Yes Miniseries
Co-directed with Ariel Kleiman
Co-written with Gerard Lee
TBA The Power of the Dog Yes Yes Yes Post-production

See also


  • Cheshire, Ellen: Jane Campion. London: Pocket Essentials, 2000.
  • Fox, Alistair: Jane Campion: Authorship and Personal Cinema. Bloomington–Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-253-22301-2.
  • Gillett, Sue: 'Views for Beyond the Mirror: The Films of Jane Campion.' St.Kilda: ATOM, 2004. ISBN 1 876467 14 2 [34][35]
  • Hester, Elizabeth J.: Jane Campion: A Selective Annotated Bibliography of Dissertations and Theses. ISBN 978-1484818381, ISBN 1484818385.
  • Jones, Gail: 'The Piano.' Australian Screen Classics, Currency Press, 2007.
  • Margolis, Harriet (ed): 'Jane Campion's The Piano.' Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • McHugh, Kathleen: 'Jane Campion.'Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007.
  • Radner, Hilary, Alistair Fox and Irène Bessière (eds): 'Jane Campion: Cinema, Nation, Identity.'Detroit: Wayne State University Press,2009.
  • Verhoeven, Deb: Jane Campion. London: Routledge, 2009.
  • Wexman V.W.: Jane Campion: Interviews. Roundhouse Publishing. 1999.


  1. ^ Fox, Alistair (2011). Jane Campion: Authorship and Personal Cinema. Indiana University Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0253223012. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  2. ^ "'Piano's' Jane Campion Is First Female Director to Win; 'Concubine's' Chen Kaige Has First Chinese-Film Victory: 'Piano', 'Concubine', Share the Palme D'Or", Los Angeles Times, 25 May 1993; retrieved 6 May 2012.
  3. ^ Fox (2011). Jane Campion profile. p. 25. ISBN 978-0253223012.
  4. ^ a b c d e McHugh, Kathleen (2007). Contemporary Film Directors: Jane Campion. United States of America: University of Illinois, Urbana. ISBN 978-0-252-03204-2.
  5. ^ Canby, Vincent (30 May 1993). "FILM VIEW; Jane Campion Stirs Romance With Mystery". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Fox (2011). Jane Campion profile. p. 26. ISBN 978-0253223012. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  7. ^ Fox (2009). Jane Campion profile. p. 41. ISBN 978-0814334324. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  8. ^ Mark Stiles, "Jane Campion", Cinema Papers, December 1985, pp. 434-435, 471
  9. ^ "Awards 1986 : Competition - Festival de Cannes 2015 (International Film Festival)". Archived from the original on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  10. ^ Audrey Foster, Gwendolyn (September 2017). "Girlhood in Reverse – Jane Campion's 2 Friends (1986)". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  11. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Piano". Retrieved 22 August 2009.
  12. ^ Huttner, Jan Lisa. "Chats - Jane Campion". Films For Two. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  13. ^ Guthrie, Marisa (4 November 2011). "Jane Campion to Write, Direct Sundance Channel Miniseries Starring Elisabeth Moss". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Top of the Lake". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Top Of The Lake - Season 1 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  16. ^ "Top of the Lake (2013– ) : Awards". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  17. ^ "Nominees/Winners | Television Academy". 13 November 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  18. ^ "A Palme d'or for the Cinéfondation!". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  19. ^ "Jane Campion to preside over Cannes Film Festival jury". BBC News. 7 January 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  20. ^ "Bear hugs at Cannes as Mommy wins jury prize". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  21. ^ "Xavier Dolan and Jane Campion". 26 July 2014. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  22. ^ Gibson, Megan (13 May 2014). "Jane Campion in talks to direct the big-screen adaptation of "The Flamethrowers"". Time.
  23. ^ Khatchatourian, Maane (13 May 2014). "Jane Campion Near Deal to Direct Adaptation of 'The Flamethrowers'". Variety.
  24. ^ Shechet, Ellie (23 June 2015). "Season 2 of Top of the Lake Will Take Place in Sydney and Hong Kong". Jezebel.
  25. ^ Kroll, Justin (6 May 2019). "Benedict Cumberbatch, Elisabeth Moss to Star in Jane Campion's New Film". Variety.
  26. ^ "ENGLERT, COLIN DAVID Australia". Business Profiles. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  27. ^ Franke, Lizzie (1999). "Jane Campbell Is Called the Best Female Director in the World. What's Female Got to Do with It?". In Wexman, Virginia Wright (ed.). Jane Campion: Interview. University Press of Mississippi. p. 207. ISBN 978-1578060832. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  28. ^ Sampson, Des (24 January 2013). "Alice Englert stars in Twilight successor". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  29. ^ V. W. Wexman. Jane Campion: Interviews. Roundhouse Publishing. 1999. ISBN 1-57806-083-4.
  30. ^ "More than Meets the Eye: The Mediation of Affects in Jane Campion's Sweetie • Senses of Cinema". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  31. ^ "Jane Campion - Biography - Movies & TV -". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 30 April 1954. Retrieved 30 December 2015.[dead link]
  32. ^ “New Year Honours 2016” (15 Jan 2016) 2 New Zealand Gazette 1 at 3.
  33. ^ "Richie McCaw surpasses knighthood, appointed NZ's top honour". TVNZ. 30 December 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  34. ^ "Views From Beyond the Mirror: The Films of Jane Campion by Sue Gillett • Senses of Cinema". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  35. ^ "The films of Jane Campion : views from beyond the mirror / Sue Gillett. - Version details". Retrieved 8 June 2016.

External links

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