“Since I first went to Cannes with my short films in 1986 – Campion says – I have had the opportunity to see the festival from many sides and my admiration for this Queen of film festivals has only grown larger. At the Cannes Film Festival they manage to combine and celebrate the glamour of the industry, the stars, the parties, the beaches, the business, while rigorously maintaining the festival’s seriousness about the Art and excellence of new world cinema. “
Steven Spielberg will thus be succeeded by another film legend: Jane Campion is in fact the only female director to have won the Palme d’or, for The Piano in 1993, having already garnered the Short Film Palme d’or back in 1986, (for Peel) – a unique double in the history of the Festival de Cannes.
In the words of Gilles Jacob: “Once upon a time there was an unknown young director from Down Under who was no doubt proud enough that the Festival de Cannes was going to present even one of the three short films she had just finished. But they were shot through with such courage and humanity and captured such a unique world that the Festival refused to choose and – in a masterstroke – screened all three, marking the advent of a true master. Jane Campion had arrived, and she brought a whole new style with her. That led to Sweetie, The Piano and more recently Bright Star – that marvellous film, shot through, as ever, with poetry. You’ll hardly be surprised that amid such a welter of emotions, I’ve taken to calling her ‘My Lady Jane’”
“It is this world wide inclusiveness and passion for film at the heart of the festival which makes the importance of the Cannes Film Festival indisputable.” Campion says. “It is a mythical and exciting festival where amazing things can happen, actors are discovered, films are financed careers are made, I know this because that is what happened to me!”
Thierry Frémaux adds: “We are immensely proud that Jane Campion has accepted our invitation. Following on from Michèle Morgan, Jeanne Moreau, Françoise Sagan, Isabelle Adjani, Liv Ullmann and Isabelle Huppert in 2009, she is the latest distinguished name to grace a prestigious roster of female Presidents. Coming from a country and indeed a continent where film is a rare but powerful phenomenon, she is one of those directors who perfectly embody the idea that you can make films as an artist and yet still appeal to a worldwide public. And we are confident that her exacting approach will be mirrored by her Jury.”
“I am truly honored to join with the Cannes Film Festival as President of the in Competition features for 2014,” concludes Campion. “In fact I can’t wait.”
Born into a family of artists, Jane Campion studied anthropology, then art, before turning to film, where her rise to success was meteoric. In the wake of her acclaimed short films, which culminated in a Palme d’or, she captivated international critics with Sweetie (1989), her first feature film, selected In Competition at the Festival de Cannes. After An Angel at my Table (1990), inspired by the works of Janet Frame, in which the theme of an extraordinary woman engaged in the painful quest to assert her identity had already been sketched out, she returned to competition in Cannes in 1993 with The Piano, which won the Palme d’or as well as Best Actress prize for Holly Hunter (starring opposite the unforgettable Harvey Keitel). A few months later, Jane Campion, nominated for Best Director at the Oscars, instead picked up the award for the best Screenplay.
Her subsequent works have featured several variants on female characters engaged in an intense yet often thwarted quest for fulfilment: Portrait of a Lady in 1996 with Nicole Kidman, Holy Smoke in 1999 avec Kate Winslet, and In the Cut (2003) with Meg Ryan.
Her last film for cinema, Bright Star, an original vision and fictionalised biography of the poet Keats and his muse, was presented In Competition at Cannes, in 2009.
Jane Campion has recently won remarkable public and critical acclaim with a television series, Top of the Lake, in which she develops her favourite themes, portraying the splendour of nature, the outpouring of romantic passion and the revolt of women against societies dominated by violence and machismo. Yet further proof of Campion’s status as a major filmmaker and indefatigable pioneer.