In 1993, Jane Campion became the first woman to win the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for her beautiful film, The Piano.
Twenty-one Cannes Film Festivals later, Campion is still the lone female to win the Palme d’Or. This year she’s back as the president of the Cannes jury and kicked things off at a press conference with strong thoughts on the subject of women in film. “I think you’d have to say there’s some inherent sexism in the industry. It does feel very undemocratic and women do notice. Time and time again, we don’t get our share of representation.”
Don’t agree with Campion? Well, here’s a quick test – name ten female directors. OK, how about seven? Maybe just these six?
No doubt you can name twice as many male directors. According to the latest report from the organization Independent Women, only 18% of directors working on independent narrative features are women and only a mere 6% are directors of last year’s highest-grossing films.
Campion has been at the top of the list of working female directors for decades. The Piano catapulted her career after it won three Oscars at the 1994 Academy Awards for Best Actress [Holly Hunter], Best Supporting Actress [Anna Paquin] and Best Screenplay for Campion. It was nominated for five more Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.
- Still missing their piano, Ada and Flora convince a reluctant George to take them back the beach where they first landed. In this scene: Ada (Holly Hunter), Flora (Anna Paquin), George (Harvey Keitel)
- Tensions run high at the play as George and Ada continue their passive-aggressive back-and-forth. In this scene: Ada (Holly Hunter), Stewart (Sam Neill), Flora (Anna Paquin), George (Harvey Keitel)
- Feeling guilty, George calls off his arrangement with Ada and returns her piano to her. In this scene: Ada (Holly Hunter), Stewart (Sam Neill), Flora (Anna Paquin), George (Harvey Keitel)
- As tensions between them grow, Ada and George take their affectionate agreement to the next level. In this scene: Ada (Holly Hunter), George (Harvey Keitel), Flora (Anna Paquin)
Campion’s work offers a unique female voice and she strongly believes we need more stories from and about women, as she recently told The Guardian.
“Filmmaking is not about whether you’re a man or a woman; it’s about sensitivity and hard work and really loving what you do. But women are going to tell different stories – there would be many more diverse stories in the world if women were making more films. The way women love women is different to the way men love women: women love women who feel real, who are complicated, and not just sex objects. The woman characters in The Piano are created by a woman; Ada was my heroine. That’s the reason it had the impact it did.”
Follow all of the action of this year’s Cannes Film Festival to see which film takes home the Palme d’Or. Just two of the eighteen films in the running are helmed by women. And revisit Campion’s masterpiece via Amazon Instant Video today.