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Jane Campion

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

(1954-04-30) 30 April 1954 (age 69)
Wellington, New Zealand
  • Screenwriter
  • producer
  • director
Colin David Englert
(m. 1992; div. 2001)
Children 2, including Alice Englert
  • Richard Campion (father)
  • Edith Campion (mother)
Jane Campion signature.svg

Dame Elizabeth Jane Campion DNZM (born 30 April 1954) is a New Zealand filmmaker. She has received two Academy Awards, two BAFTA Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards for her critically acclaimed films, The Piano (1993), and The Power of the Dog (2021). Campion was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) in the 2016 New Year Honours, for services to film.

Campion is known as a groundbreaking female director and is currently the only woman to be nominated twice for Academy Award for Best Director (winning once), and is the first female filmmaker to receive the Palme d'Or for The Piano (1993) which also won her the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. She also made history at the 94th Academy Awards when she won Best Director for The Power of the Dog (2021), making her the oldest female director to win, the first woman to win Academy Awards for both directing and screenwriting in her different films, and the first woman not to win Best Picture after winning Best Director. She broke the same barrier at the 78th Venice International Film Festival when she won the Silver Lion award. She is the third woman to win the Directors Guild of America Award for Feature Film.

Campion is also known for directing the films An Angel at My Table (1990), The Portrait of a Lady (1996), Holy Smoke! (1998), and Bright Star (2009). She also co-created the television series Top of the Lake (2013) and received three Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

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. 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. She attended Queen Margaret College and Wellington Girls' College. 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. Their parents founded the New Zealand Players. 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.

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.

Campion's dissatisfaction with the limitations of painting 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.


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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, 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.

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, 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 for her movie The Piano.

Campion's 1996 film The Portrait of a Lady, 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. ..... 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. 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.

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

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Jane Campion in 2014

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

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

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. 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, having premiered at the 78th Venice International Film Festival, where Campion was awarded the Silver Lion for Best Direction. The film was critically acclaimed internationally, winning numerous awards and nominations for the direction, screenplay, and performance of the cast of actors. 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. Campion issued an apology to Serena and Venus Williams following criticism of her acceptance speech for Critics Choice Movie Award for Best Director, in which Campion said, "And you know, Serena and Venus, you are such marvels. However, you do not play against the guys — like I have to." Her apology included, "I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved,” she said. "I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world-class athletes." In February 2022, the film received 12 nominations at the 94th Academy Awards, leading that year's Oscar nominations. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch, Best Supporting Actress for Kirsten Dunst, and Best Supporting Actor for both Kodi Smit-McPhee and Jesse Plemons. Campion became the first woman to receive multiple Best Director nominations, and she won Best Director for the film. She is also the first woman to win Best Director without also winning a corresponding Best Picture.

Personal life

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

Honours and accolades

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

Campion was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) in the 2016 New Year Honours, for services to film.


Feature films

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1989 Sweetie Yes Yes No
1990 An Angel at My Table Yes No No
1993 The Piano Yes Yes No
1996 The Portrait of a Lady Yes No No
1999 Holy Smoke! Yes Yes No
Soft Fruit No No Yes
2003 In the Cut Yes Yes No
2006 Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story No No Yes Documentary
2009 Bright Star Yes Yes Yes
2021 The Power of the Dog Yes Yes Yes

Short films

Year Title Director Writer Producer ..... Yes Yes No
1982 Peel: An Exercise in Discipline Yes Yes No
1983 Passionless Moments Yes Yes Yes
1984 A Girl's Own Story Yes Yes No
After Hours Yes Yes No
2006 The Water Diary Yes Yes No Segment of 8
2007 The Lady Bug Yes Yes No Segment of To Each His Own Cinema
2012 I'm the One No No Yes
2016 Family Happiness No No 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
Two Friends (TV)
An Angel at My Table
The Piano
The Portrait of a Lady
Holy Smoke
Soft Fruit
In the Cut
Bright Star
Top of the Lake (S1)
Top of the Lake (S2)
Roger Ashton-Griffiths Yes Yes
Kerry Fox Yes Yes
Paul Goddard Yes Yes
Holly Hunter Yes Yes
Harvey Keitel Yes Yes
Nicole Kidman Yes Yes Yes
Genevieve Lemon Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Elisabeth Moss Yes Yes
Kerry Walker Yes Yes

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Jane Campion para niños

  • Women's cinema
  • New Zealand film makers
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