Dame Jane Campion breaks the glass ceiling for female directors

It was an Oscar ceremony like no other, and that’s on top of the infamous slap.

Dame Jane Campion won Best Director for The Power of the Dog.

She is the first woman to be nominated for the award twice and the second woman to ever win it.

The 2022 Oscars weren’t his first rodeo. Rewind three decades ago and she won Best Screenplay for The Piano and was nominated for Best Director for the feature film.

She then became the first woman to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1993.

Dame Jane was born into a family steeped in theatre. Her father Richard Campion was a theater director and her mother Edith Campion was an actress.

She grew up in Wellington, but instead of following in her parents’ footsteps, she went to Victoria University and earned a degree in anthropology. Then she flew to Venice, London and Sydney – where she discovered her passion for filmmaking.

She then worked with strong women like Kate Winslet and Nicole Kidman. His films often focused on the plight of women.

“I was hoping that this big win and this increase in attention would get people to watch his other work because some of it was really unfairly rated when it came out because of criticism and mainstream film culture were dominated by men. They’ve kind of been reconsidered in light of ‘me too’ and a broader awareness, I guess, of the inequality of women in pop culture,” says Missy Molloy, senior lecturer in film at Victoria University.

After a hiatus from cinema for more than a decade, his big comeback with The Power of the Dog once again made history.

“I love how Jane has completely hijacked the western. It’s bold, it’s adventurous, it’s a very confident movie, and there’s no other filmmaker in the world who could have done that,” says Dame Gaylene Preston.


She goes on to describe the difficulties faced by female directors in obtaining funds to make such big-budget films.

“Somehow, creatively, we’re not trusting women with money so we can make low-budget movies, but actually getting the resources to cut through the movies. more important, that’s where it’s at. It makes The Power of the Dog even more of a triumph, which makes Jane a real triumph,” says Dame Gaylene.

“She’s actually achieved a level of mainstream success with a very unconventional vision, which is another exciting side. Usually only male directors get that opportunity. It’s broken down the doors that make it possible for other women,” says Molloy.

Dame Jane’s victory is a small step towards change in an industry that remains heavily male-dominated.

Molloy and Preston agree that over the decades there hasn’t been much improvement in the percentage of women behind the lens, and that needs to change.

For film students, his victory is inspiring.

“It sets a very high standard for us and shows us that we are capable of achieving it, especially as Kiwis and as women,” says Jess Hockey, a film student at Victoria University.

“It’s that kind of on-screen representation that really reflects what’s going on in society, so being able to get those stories out there is really important,” she says.

“Seeing first Taika win and now Jane Campion, there’s definitely, well, there’s a space for us, there’s a space for people to step forward and put our art in the world,” says Georgia Ah Kuoi, another film student in Victoria. University.

“I think Jane Campion’s victory is amazing, but there is still a lot of work to do, there are still a lot of wāhine who are doing as much work as her and I think it’s time we started to do them. recognize too,” Georgia says.

For veteran filmmaker Dame Gaylene, she says her “heart swells with pride” at Dame Jane’s recognition, but the price for her success comes after many years and the industry continues to slowly move towards diversity.

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