8 Jan 2014

Jane Campion to head Cannes jury

6:33 am on 8 January 2014

Oscar-winning New Zealand director Jane Campion will head the jury for the Cannes Film Festival in May, organisers have announced.

Campion won an Oscar for best screenplay for her 1993 film The Piano and is still the only woman ever to win the top Cannes prize, the Palme d'Or, for the same film.

She succeeds US director Steven Spielberg who headed the jury last year, Reuters reports.

Jane Campion is the only woman to win the Palme d'Or.

Jane Campion is the only woman to win the Palme d'Or. Photo: AFP

In a statement issued by the festival Campion said she was truly honoured to take up the role of jury president at the 67th festival.

"Since I first went to Cannes with my short films in 1986 I have had the opportunity to see the festival from many sides and my admiration for this queen of film festivals has only grown larger," she said.

She called Cannes "a mythical and exciting festival where amazing things can happen, actors are discovered, films are financed careers are made."

The director lauded Cannes' ability to celebrate the glamour of the film industry with its stars and parties while "rigourously maintaining the festival's seriousness about the art and excellence of new world cinema".

In addition to The Piano winning the Palme d'Or in 1993, the festival that year named Holly Hunter, who played opposite Harvey Keitel in the movie, best actress. The film also netted Academy Awards for Hunter and actress Anna Paquin.

Campion was born in Wellington and originally studied to be an anthropologist. She started making short films in the 1980s and won the top Cannes prize for a short feature in 1986. Her first feature film was Sweetie (1989) followed by An Angel at My Table (1990) and The Piano.

Other films include The Portrait of a Lady (1996) based on the Henry James novel, Holy Smoke (1999) and In the Cut (2003).

More recently, Campion worked on television drama Top of the Lake, which reunited her with Holly Hunter. The mini-series was screened on BBC 2 in the UK.