[8 August 2011]
The cornerstone of Jane Campion’s career, and the film that she will probably remain best remembered for, was 1993’s indescribably haunting The Piano, starring Holly Hunter as a mute mail-order bride shipped to meet her husband in the wilds of New Zealand with her daughter and beloved piano in tow. Cannes was kinder to Campion this time, to say the least: she became the first female director in history to win the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or for feature film. More success followed: The Piano became an art-house sensation worldwide, and Campion, along with Hunter and nine-year-old actress Anna Paquin, earned an Oscar for her work. The film immediately posited Campion as one of the most significant female directors in the world, and remains one of the touchstones of that slippery category, “women’s cinema”.