Jane Campion

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)

Dame Elizabeth Jane Campion DNZM (born 30 April 1954) is a New Zealand director, screenwriter, and producer.[1] She became the second woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and the first female filmmaker to receive the Palme d'Or; both of these achievements came for The Piano (1993). She also won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the same film.[2] At the 78th Venice International Film Festival, she won the Silver Lion award for directing The Power of the Dog (2021).[3] Campion is also known for directing the films An Angel at My Table (1990), Holy Smoke! (1998), and Bright Star (2009).

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.[4][5][6] Her maternal great-grandfather was Robert Hannah, a well-known shoe manufacturer for whom Antrim House was built. Her father came from a family that belonged to the fundamentalist Christian Exclusive Brethren sect.[7] 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.[5] Their parents founded the New Zealand Players.[8] 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.[5]

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.[5]

Campion's dissatisfaction with the limitations of painting[5] 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.[9]


Jane Campion at the 47th Venice International Film Festival in 1990
Jane Campion at the 47th Venice International Film Festival in 1990

Campion's first short film, Peel (1982), won the Short Film Palme d'Or at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival,[10] 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.[11]

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,[12] 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) saw Campion teamed with Harvey Keitel for a second time (the first being The Piano), 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.[13]

Campion created, wrote, and directed the TV mini-series Top of the Lake,[14] which received near universal acclaim,[15][16] 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.[17] Campion was also nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special.[18]

Jane Campion in 2014
Jane Campion in 2014

She was the head of the jury for the Cinéfondation and Short Film sections at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival[19] and the head of the jury for the main competition section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[20]

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.[21][22]

In 2014, it was announced that Campion was nearing a deal to direct an adaptation of Rachel Kushner's novel The Flamethrowers.[23][24]

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.[25] 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, Campion's first film in a decade was announced, an adaptation of Thomas Savage's novel The Power of the Dog. The film was written and directed by her and was released in 2021,[26] having premiered at the 78th Venice International Film Festival, where Campion was awarded the Silver Lion for Best Direction.[27] The film was critically acclaimed internationally, winning numerous awards and nominations, both for the direction, screenplay and performance of the cast of actors.[28] Campion earned three nominations in the respective categories for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Picture at the Golden Globe Awards, AACTA International Awards, Critics' Choice Movie Awards and Satellite Awards.

Personal life

In 1992, she married Colin David Englert, an Australian who worked as a second unit director on The Piano.[29] Their first child, Jasper, was born in 1993 but lived for only 12 days.[30] Their second child, Alice Englert, was born in 1994; she is an actress. The couple divorced in 2001.[31]


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 (1999), critic David Thomson describes Campion "as one of the best young directors in the world today."[32] 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.[33] 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."[34]

Honours and accolades

Jane Campion receiving the Grand Jury Prize from Anjelica Huston at the 47th Venice International Film Festival

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Jane Campion

Campion was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2016 New Year Honours, for services to film.[35][36]


Short films

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1980 Tissues Yes Yes
1981 Mishaps of Seduction and Conquest Yes Yes
1982 Peel: An Exercise in Discipline Yes Yes
1983 Passionless Moments Yes Yes Yes
1984 A Girl's Own Story Yes Yes
After Hours Yes Yes
2006 The Water Diary Yes Yes Segment of 8
2007 The Lady Bug Yes Yes Segment of To Each His Own Cinema
2012 I'm the One Yes
2016 Family Happiness Yes

Feature films

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1989 Sweetie Yes Yes
1990 An Angel at My Table Yes
1993 The Piano Yes Yes
1996 The Portrait of a Lady Yes
1999 Holy Smoke! Yes Yes
Soft Fruit Yes
2003 In the Cut Yes Yes
2006 Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story Yes Documentary
2009 Bright Star Yes Yes Yes
2021 The Power of the Dog Yes Yes Yes


Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1986 Two Friends Yes TV movie
2013 Top of the Lake Yes Yes Yes Miniseries
Co-directed with Garth Davis
2017 Top of the Lake: China Girl Yes Yes Yes Miniseries
Co-directed with Ariel Kleiman

Recurring collaborators

1986 1989 1990 1993 1996 1999 1999 2003 2009 2013 2017 2021
Roger Ashton-Griffiths
Kerry Fox
Paul Goddard
Holly Hunter
Harvey Keitel
Nicole Kidman
Genevieve Lemon
Kerry Walker

See also



  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. ^ "Jane Campion wins best director at Venice Film Festival". RNZ. 12 September 2021. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  4. ^ Fox (2011). Jane Campion profile. p. 25. ISBN 978-0253223012.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Canby, Vincent (30 May 1993). "FILM VIEW; Jane Campion Stirs Romance With Mystery". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Fox (2011). Jane Campion profile. p. 26. ISBN 978-0253223012. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  8. ^ Fox (2009). Jane Campion profile. p. 41. ISBN 978-0814334324. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  9. ^ Mark Stiles, "Jane Campion", Cinema Papers, December 1985, pp. 434-435, 471
  10. ^ "Awards 1986 : Competition - Festival de Cannes 2015 (International Film Festival)". Festival-cannes.fr. Archived from the original on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  11. ^ Audrey Foster, Gwendolyn (September 2017). "Girlhood in Reverse – Jane Campion's 2 Friends (1986)". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  12. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Piano". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
  13. ^ Huttner, Jan Lisa. "Chats - Jane Campion". Films42.com. Films For Two. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  14. ^ Guthrie, Marisa (4 November 2011). "Jane Campion to Write, Direct Sundance Channel Miniseries Starring Elisabeth Moss". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Top of the Lake". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  16. ^ "Top Of The Lake - Season 1 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  17. ^ "Top of the Lake (2013– ) : Awards". IMDb.com. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Nominees/Winners | Television Academy". Emmys.com. 13 November 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  19. ^ "A Palme d'or for the Cinéfondation!". festival-cannes.fr. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  20. ^ "Jane Campion to preside over Cannes Film Festival jury". BBC News. 7 January 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  21. ^ "Bear hugs at Cannes as Mommy wins jury prize". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  22. ^ "Xavier Dolan and Jane Campion". 26 July 2014. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  23. ^ Gibson, Megan (13 May 2014). "Jane Campion in talks to direct the big-screen adaptation of "The Flamethrowers"". Time.
  24. ^ Khatchatourian, Maane (13 May 2014). "Jane Campion Near Deal to Direct Adaptation of 'The Flamethrowers'". Variety.
  25. ^ Shechet, Ellie (23 June 2015). "Season 2 of Top of the Lake Will Take Place in Sydney and Hong Kong". Jezebel.
  26. ^ Kroll, Justin (6 May 2019). "Benedict Cumberbatch, Elisabeth Moss to Star in Jane Campion's New Film". Variety.
  27. ^ Lattanzio, Ryan. "Venice Film Festival Awards: Golden Lion Goes to Audrey Diwan's 'Happening' (Full List)". Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  28. ^ The Power of the Dog, retrieved 1 January 2022
  29. ^ "ENGLERT, COLIN DAVID Australia". Business Profiles. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ Sampson, Des (24 January 2013). "Alice Englert stars in Twilight successor". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  32. ^ V. W. Wexman. Jane Campion: Interviews. Roundhouse Publishing. 1999. ISBN 1-57806-083-4.
  33. ^ "More than Meets the Eye: The Mediation of Affects in Jane Campion's Sweetie • Senses of Cinema". Sensesofcinema.com. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  34. ^ "Jane Campion - Biography - Movies & TV - NYTimes.com". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 30 April 1954. Retrieved 30 December 2015.[dead link]
  35. ^ “New Year Honours 2016” (15 Jan 2016) 2 New Zealand Gazette 1 at 3.
  36. ^ "Richie McCaw surpasses knighthood, appointed NZ's top honour". TVNZ. 30 December 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  37. ^ "Views From Beyond the Mirror: The Films of Jane Campion by Sue Gillett • Senses of Cinema". Sensesofcinema.com. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  38. ^ "The films of Jane Campion : views from beyond the mirror / Sue Gillett. - Version details". Trove.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 8 June 2016.