The pioneering filmmaker takes prime position at Cannes
Campion is best known for The Piano, a film that saw her win the Palme d'Or at the French film festival in 1993. She was the first female winner, and remains the only one to this day. The film also won her a best screenplay award at The Oscars.
Jane Campion's consierable reputation has seen her take the head judge spot at Cannes 2014
The New Zealander said she was "truly honoured" to be offered the role, adding: "I can't wait." Campion called Cannes "a mythical and exciting festival where amazing things can happen, actors are discovered, films are financed careers are made. I know this because that is what happened to me!" she added in a statement posted on the festival's website.
"It is this worldwide inclusiveness and passion for film at the heart of the festival which makes the importance of the Cannes Film Festival indisputable," said the filmmaker. "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," said Campion.
"At the Cannes film festival they manage to combine and celebrate the glamour of the industry, the stars, the parties, the beaches, the business, while rigorously maintaining the festival's seriousness about the Art and excellence of new world cinema."
Although Campion was the first Palm D’Or winner, she isn’t the first female head judge: Liv Ullmann performed the role in 2001 and actress Isabelle Huppert in 2009, amongst others.
She takes over from last year’s head judge, Steven Spielberg , who – alongside fellow judges Nicole Kidman and Ang Lee - decided to award the Palm D’Or to Blue is The Warmest Colour, and the film’s two lead actors, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux.
The unprecedented move to celebrate both the director and the actors was explained by Spielberg: "The film is a great love story that made all of us feel privileged to be a fly on the wall, to see this story of deep love and deep heartbreak evolve from the beginning,” he said.
“The director did not put any constraints on the narrative and we were absolutely spellbound by the amazing performances of the two actresses, and especially the way the director observed his characters and just let the characters breathe.”
Campion’s appointment has been perceived by some as a move to quell those who believe the festival to be institutionally sexist.
In 2012, French newspaper Le Monde ran a letter from the feminist collective ‘La Barbe - signed by female French film-makers - including Virginie Despentes, Coline Serreau and Fanny Cottençon – condemning the festival for not nominating a single female director for that year's Palme D'Or.