Campion honoured in Cannes

Another prestigious honour at the Cannes Film Festival has added further weight to Jane Campion’s legendary status in cinema.

But the fact there aren’t more female directors at the top still irks the Australian-based, New Zealand-born film maker.

Campion was honoured by her peers as she collected the Carrosse d’or at the opening of the Director’s Fortnight, joining an illustrious list of previous recipients including Clint Eastwood.

The award recognises “innovative qualities, courage and independent-mindedness” in directing and is the latest feather in Campion’s impressive Cannes cap.

She is the only woman to have won the coveted Palme d’or – or best film prize – for her 1993 drama The Piano, while Campion also won the top short film prize with Peel in 1986.

The 59-year-old, president of the short film jury at this year’s festival, was given a rousing ovation, humbled by the honour and dedicated it to the many directors and their films which inspired her.

Earlier, she appeared at a packed cinema for an hour-long conversation session in which she spoke at length about her career and most recent work, TV drama series Top of the Lake.

Quizzed about whether the film industry was tough for female directors, Campion said it was a tired issue and “something that makes us gnash our teeth and yawn at the same time”.

But she said she still found the imbalance annoying and offered words of encouragement for aspiring female film makers.

“Put all your energy into making an amazing piece of work because women can obviously make as good a film as guys,” Campion said.

“Kathryn Bigelow (Oscar-winning director of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty) has shown quite clearly that, even taking on topics like action movies and war films, she can make the best films in the world.”

Campion showed her support for a fellow female director as she attended the press screening of Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring on Thursday morning and she said the industry could be frustrating for women.

“What’s very difficult when they come to a festival like Cannes, it’s always like ‘oh so you’re a woman director’. How many guys get ‘oh so you’re a male director’,” she said.

“It would be lovely if people just said, ‘oh you’re a director, congratulations on your film’.”

Campion, whose other films include Sweetie (1998), An Angel at My Table (1990), Portrait of a Lady (1996), In The Cut (2003) and Bright Star (2009), is one of only four women to be nominated for the Academy Award for best director.

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Top of the Lake, co-created with Gerard Lee and set in New Zealand’s south island, has earned critical acclaim since screening earlier this year.