Art & Entertainment

Jane Campion Recalls Two Films That Left An Imprint On Her Teenage Mind

These days Jane Campion -- Palme d'Or and Oscar-winning film director -- is celebrated for a vein of heartfelt cinema that is aching and quirky, rather than gushing, writes 'Variety'.

Jane Campion
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 These days Jane Campion -- Palme d'Or and Oscar-winning film director -- is celebrated for a vein of heartfelt cinema that is aching and quirky, rather than gushing, writes 'Variety'.

She's also an intelligent and determined female pioneer who has had to struggle for her present standing in a male-dominated industry.

The Sydney Film Festival this week is showcasing and contextualising Campion's body of work, 'Variety' reports. Its screening programme includes all nine of her feature films, from "Two Friends" to "The Power of the Dog", and a selection of her shorts.

"For our 70th edition, we wanted to present a retrospective commensurate with the milestone, reflecting the audacious and boundary pushing filmmaking synonymous with our festival and region. There was no one more appropriate than Jane Campion," said SFF Director Nashen Moodley in notes ahead of the event.

India, incidentally, is being represented at the Festival, which opened on June 7, by the Manoj Bajpayee-starrer "Joram" (directed by Devashish Makhija), "Kennedy" (Anurag Kashyap's much-anticipated noir drama) and "The Winter Within" (directed by Aamir Bashir).

On Saturday, the Festival screened Julie Bertucelli's 2022 documentary "Jane Campion, the Cinema Woman" ahead of an on-stage interview between the filmmaker and critic and former SFF programmer David Stratton.

Conducted largely in chronological order, according to 'Variety', the interview quickly revealed that Campion's broad-minded parents and Luis Bunuel, the master of the surreal, had been early and significant influences.

Campion recalled her mother taking her teenage daughter to the Spanish-Mexican auteur's film about a housewife-prostitute, "Belle de Jour".

"(Bunuel) felt like a bolt of energy. Because he saw the world like I feel it too. It's hard to be surreal and often apparently silly and funny. And, you know, of course, I take myself quite seriously," Campion said.

Her theatre director father, adds 'Variety', took the 16-year-old Campion to Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell's controversial "Performance", a crime drama that involved an encounter between a rock star and a violent mobster that was banned in some countries, including Australia.

"It felt like I was sort of stretching out beyond my capacity. And the film was inviting you to a new understanding of the world," Campion said.

Both the stage interview and Bertucelli's doc, 'Variety' notes, cited the uncomfortable Cannes response to Campion's 1989 film "Sweetie", a quirky tale of female best friends.

Mass walkouts at the festival premiere left the director feeling "completely humiliated", only for her to find crumbs of comfort from the divisive and domineering Cannes talent scout Pierre Rissient, who reassured her that "the right people liked it".

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