Women too sensitive to succeed as film directors, says Campion

Only female winner of Palme d'Or says her gender has to learn to take criticism

She is the only woman to have won the prized Palme d'Or in the 62-year history of the Cannes Film Festival and is among a tiny handful of the world's best directors to have been recognised twice there.

Jane Campion yesterday sounded a rallying call for other women to "put on their coats of armour" and take on the male-dominated world of movie-directing.

Campion has declared herself a feminist in previous interviews and has bemoaned the lack of female directors. She is now suggesting it is time for women to toughen themselves up.

Women tend to find criticism hard to bear, said Campion, whose latest film, Bright Star, is in the running for the Palme D'Or at Cannes.

"I think women grow up without a lot of harsh criticism, they are treated more sensitively and it's quite hard when you first enter the world of film-making," she said yesterday. "But women must put on their coats of armour and get going.

"I would love to see more women directors because they represent half of the population and gave birth to the whole world. Without them, the rest are not getting to know the whole story."

The director, who once said "tragedy makes you grow up", admitted film studios still had a "distrust" of women's abilities. Describing the studio system as sexist, she said one of the reasons for there being a relatively large army of female film-makers in her native New Zealand was that the country did not have a thriving studio tradition.

"I think the studio system is kind of an old boys' system," she said. "It's difficult for them to trust women to be capable. I have been very, very lucky because some of our cinema is state-sponsored so they have to be fair to both men and women," she said.

Campion, 55, is one of three female film-makers in this year's competition, whose jury president is Isabelle Huppert, only the fourth woman in the history of the festival to take this role.

Yet Campion has been the first to speak up about the difference between the sexes at the festival. Only days ago Huppert said "cinema is universal" and with a shrug of the shoulders, added that she was just "happy" to be one of only four female judges since the festival was founded.

While she has seen success at Cannes, no female director has ever won an Oscar and only three have ever been nominated, including Campion with The Piano.

Campion first came to Cannes in 1986, when her Peel won the Palme d'Or for short films. Then, in 1993, Campion jointly won the Golden Palm for The Piano.

Bright Star is her first feature film in six years and it dramatises the intense love affair between the Romantic poet John Keats and his fiery neighbour in north London, Fanny Brawne.

The British actor Ben Whishaw is cast as the poet, who died at the age of 25. Campion told the story through Fanny's eyes, she said, because was drawn to her character after reading Andrew Motion's biography of Keats.

"The history of their relationship caught me unawares. It was so exciting," Campion said.

Celluloid ceiling: Awards for directors

*Academy Award for Best Director

Total awards: 84

Women: 0 Men: 84

*Golden Globe for Best Director

Total awards: 66

Women: 1 (1983, Barbra Streisand – Yentl) Men: 65

*Palme d'Or

Total awards: 68

Women: 1 (1993, Jane Campion – The Piano) Men: 67

*Bafta for Best Direction

Total awards: 41

Women: 0 Men: 41

*Silver Bear Best Director (Berlin)

Total awards: 51

Women: 1 (1979, Astrid Henning-Jensen – Vinterborn) Men: 50

Cannes Diary

New 'Heights'

Cathy, the tempestuous central character of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, has been captured on film by cinema royalty including Merle Oberon (opposite Laurence Olivier), Juliette Binoche and Yvonne Mitchell. Cathy is now to be reprised by the one-time Bond girl, Gemma Arterton. The Kent-born actress will star opposite Ed Westwick, from the US television series Gossip Girl, as Heathcliff.

Let there be rock

Ang Lee, whose film Taking Woodstock, which stars the British actress Imelda Staunton, stumbled across the story (based on the book about the true-life story of Elliot Tiber; see review, right) by accident while he was booked to appear on a San Francisco talk show to discuss his film Lust, Caution in 2007. It was there that he came across Mr Tiber, who was on the show to discuss the book. The two men got chatting on the set and Lee's curiosity was piqued. Lee recalls: "A few days later, an old friend from film school called. He told me he had heard that Elliot had given me the book and encouraged me to read it."

Poetry please

Ben Whishaw, the Bedford-born actor and star of Jane Campion's Bright Star, who plays the John Keats, admitted he held a prejudice against Romantic poets before embarking on the film. "I didn't really know much about him (Keats) at all," Whishaw confessed . "I liked modern stuff but I have grown to love the luxury and sensuality of Keats' writing."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on