Jane Campion, the first female director to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes, will succeed Steven Spielberg as president of the jury at the “Queen of film festivals”.
The Kiwi writer, director and producer was awarded the top prize at the festival for The Piano in 1993, and described as a “major filmmaker and indefatigable pioneer” by Cannes officials.
Campion said she “can’t wait” to preside over the jury during this year’s event which runs from May 14 to 25. The organisers described it as one “film legend” in Spielberg passing the baton on to another.
“Since I first went to Cannes with my short films in 1986 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,” Campion said.
Campion is the only female director to win the Palme d’Or after already winning the Short Film Palme d’Or for Peel in 1986, described as a “unique double in the history of the festival”.
Festival president Gilles Jacob said that Campion “had arrived” with the screening of her short films at Cannes “and she brought a whole new style with her”.
Her other films include Holy Smoke and Bright Star, a fictionalised biography of the poet Keats that was in competition at Cannes in 2009. Recently she won plaudits for her BBC 2 crime drama Top of the Lake.
“It is a mythical and exciting festival where amazing things can happen,” Campion said of Cannes. “Actors are discovered, films are financed, careers are made. I know this because that is what happened to me.” The most recent female president of the Cannes festival jury was Isabelle Huppert in 2009.
Last year the jury, chaired by Spielberg, awarded the Palme d’Or to Blue is the Warmest Colour, controversial because of its graphic sex scenes.
Campion herself is no stranger to putting graphic material in her work. In the Cut showed explicit scenes of oral sex.