18 Oct 2021

Jane Campion celebrates a second top cinema award in Europe

8:27 pm on 18 October 2021

By Seamus Kearney, Nine to Noon Europe correspondent

New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion is on a winning streak in Europe, celebrating her second major cinema prize there in just over a month.

New Zealand director Jane Campion holds the 'Prix Lumiere' during the award ceremony of the 13rd edition of the Lumiere cinema Festival in Lyon, central-eastern France, on October 15, 2021.

Jane Campion with the Lumière Prize. Photo: AFP

Fresh from winning a Silver Lion best director award at the Venice Film Festival in September, the 67-year-old has been awarded one of France's top cinema honours, the Lumière Prize.

The award, dubbed the 'Nobel Prize for Cinema', was given to an emotional Campion at the end of the week-long Lumière film festival in Lyon. The southeastern city was home to the Lumière brothers, who were among the early creators of cinema.

There were standing ovations at the closing ceremony of the festival when Campion introduced a screening of a 'restored' version of her 1993 film The Piano. The movie earned her the honour of being the first woman director to win a Palme d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival.

"I'm really overwhelmed to be a guest at this festival and to be honoured. It's unbearably amazing," she told the massive audience. "It's for you that I do this."

Jane Campion awarded Lumière Prize in Lyon

A festival publication has a photo from the 1993 film The Piano on its front page. Photo: RNZ / Seamus Kearney

She went on to pay tribute to those who have worked with her: "It takes great relationships, great friendships, great adventures to make these movies, and it takes wonderful people in the dark (cinemagoers) for them to have a life," she told the audience.

"And it's incredible to me that here we are looking at a 30-year-old film and it's still alive for people. It's very moving."

Campion also paid tribute to the film producer she has often closely worked with, Jan Chapman. "She's a wonderful woman who gave me my first job, and you know it was a time when I was so not [trusted]. In fact, the head of the film school rang her up and said 'don't give her a job, I have two other very good guys' … His actual words to her were 'don't hire her, she's a troublemaker'. Yes, but he didn't realise I was a lover (of cinema) as well."

The Kiwi director displayed her typical reserved and no-fuss nature during the closing ceremony, telling the crowd that she was a "shy extrovert".

Earlier, at the prize-giving ceremony, she quipped: "New Zealanders don't do this stuff, we don't do emotion about ourselves." She joked that she would be arrested when she got home for "having a big head".

Campion's new film, The Power of the Dog, which won her the award in Venice, was among a selection of her movies screened in Lyon.

Jane Campion speaks to the audience at Lumière film festival in Lyon - she was awarded the Lumière Prize at the event

Jane Campion speaks to the audience in Lyon after her win. Photo: RNZ / Seamus Kearney

Her latest film was made exclusively for mass release on Netflix in December, which means it wasn't eligible to be in the running at the earlier Cannes Film Festival, despite the strong affection the organisers have for the Kiwi filmmaker. But the film was able to be brought to Lyon by the man who runs the Cannes festival, Thierry Frémaux, as he also runs the Lumière event.

Frémaux told the closing ceremony that The Power of the Dog, Campion's first movie in 12 years, adds more "glory" to Campion's reputation and to her cinematic history. The film has been described as a "brooding western", starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a sadistic rancher. Shot in New Zealand, the movie has already received rave reviews from critics.

The Lumière Prize was presented this year by French director Julia Ducournau, who is only the second woman director to follow in Campion's footsteps and win this year's top award at Cannes.

Jane Campion receives the Lumiere award from Julia Ducournau at the Lumiere award ceremony during the thirteenth edition of the Lumiere festival.

French director Julia Ducournau made the presentation to Jane Campion. Photo: AFP

Campion is the 13th recipient of the Lumière Prize, joining stars Clint Eastwood, Jane Fonda, Ken Loach, Wong Kar-wai, Martin Scorsese, Catherine Deneuve, Pedro Almodóvar, Francis Ford Coppola, Gérard Depardieu, Quentin Tarantino, Milos Forman and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.

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