Jane Campion was born in Wellington, New Zealand. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Wellington’s Victoria University, then pursued a Diploma of Fine Arts at Chelsea School of Arts in London before heading off to Sydney College of Arts, where she majored in painting. Subsequently, Campion decided to study film at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School in Sydney. She made her directorial debut with the short film Peel, which went on to win the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. She directed numerous award-winning short films before making her feature debut with Sweetie, which premiered in competition at Cannes. The film, a striking and original portrait of a troubled family, won the George Sadoul Prize in 1989 for Best Foreign Film, the Los Angeles Film Critics’ New Generation Award, the American Spirit of Independence Award for Best Foreign Feature and the Australian Critics Award for Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress.
Campion followed this with An Angel at My Table (1990), a dramatization of author Janet Frame’s autobiography. The film had its premiere at The Venice Film Festival where it won seven prizes, including The Silver Lion. It won the American Spirit of Independence Award, garnered prizes at the Toronto and Berlin Film Festivals and was voted most popular film at the 1990 Sydney Film Festival. Campion first won international renown for her critically acclaimed film The Piano (1993), starring Holly Hunter and Harvey Keitel. The film received more than 30 international awards, including the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, nine Academy Award nominations (including a nomination as Best Director, making Campion only the second female to be nominated in the Best Direction category) and three Oscars, including Best Screenplay for Campion. In addition, Campion received awards for Best Director from The New York Film Critics Circle, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the Australian Film Critics. The film also won Best Picture from the Australian Film Institute.
In 1996, Campion directed Portrait of a Lady based on the Holly James novel with Nicole Kidman as the lead. The film was screened at the Venice Film Festival, was nominated for two Academy Awards and garnered the Francesco Pasinetti Award for Best Film by the National Union of Film Journalists. Campion then directed and co-wrote with her sister, Anna, Holy Smoke (1999), starring Harvey Keitel and Kate Winslet.
In 2022, Campion became the first woman in the history of the Academy Awards to be nominated twice and to win twice in the directing category, this time for the western drama The Power of the Dog (2021), starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kodi-Smit McPhee, Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons, all of whom were nominated in acting categories. The film received 12 nominations in total, including Best Adapted Screenplay for the script written by Campion.
Campion married Colin Englehert in 1992 and their daughter, Alice, was born in 1994. They divorced in 2001. Campion lives in Sydney, Australia.
The Power of the Dog (2021)
Bright Star (2009)
In the Cut (2003)
Holy Smoke (1999)
Portrait of a Lady (1996)
The Piano (1993)
An Angel at My Table (1990)