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  • Writer's pictureEllen Cheshire

Happy Birthday Jane Campion

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

Jane Campion was born on this day in 1954. To celebrate this great filmmaker make May the month where you'll catch up with her short films.

Mishaps of Seduction and Conquest (1981/4) This short film made whilst at the Australian Film & Television School combines archival footage of '20s Mount Everest expedition with a filmed drama. It’s available as an extra on the Milestone Films release of Two Friends.

Although not a short film, Two Friends (1986) is a little-known TV movie. With its Memento-style reverse narrative structure (sp. Helen Garner) this is an absolute must for any Campion completist. Establishes themes & styles which return across Jane Campion's films. DVD available from Milestone Films.

Peel (1982) An intense car journey for a Pye family. It's occasionally used subtitle 'an exercise in discipline' most apt. At the 1986 Cannes Film Festival Peel won the Palme d'Or for Best Short Film (1986). Watch via NZ on Screen.

Passionless Moments (1983) Written/directed by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee. Made without permission while both were students at Australian Film, Television and Radio School it features 10 vignettes of moments captured on a lazy Sunday. Watch via NZ on Screen.

A Girl's Own Story (1984) Jane Campion’s final student film made at the Australian Film & Television School is set in 60s Australia and focuses on three young girls on the brink of womanhood. Nicole Kidman offered a part but turned it down as didn’t want to kiss girl or wear a swimming hat. Watch via vimeo.

After Hours (1984) Jane Campion's first post-film school commission was for the Women’s Film Unit of the Commonwealth Employment Scheme and is about a young woman's claim of sexual harassment against her boss. Sadly, still relevant today. Watch via YouTube.

The Audition (1989) Jane's sister Anna Campion directs this short starring Jane and their mother Edith, who is auditioning for a role in An Angel at My Table. Anna was studying at London’s Royal College of Art when the film was made. Watch via NZ on Screen.

The Water Diary (2006) Featuring Jane's daughter Alice Englert this segment on water poverty & drought, is from the anthology film 8 made to highlight the eight Millennium Development Goals adopted by all members of the UN in 2000. Watch via YouTube.

Sadly, Campion’s most recent short, The Lady Bug, which featured in the 2007 anthology To Each His Own Cinema appears to be no longer available on DVD. It was one of collection of 3-minute shorts by some 36 directors around the world on the theme of what cinema means to them commissioned by the Cannes Film Festival.

I have been a Campion champion for 20+ years as I was the first person in the world (yes in the whole wide world!) to write a book on Jane Campion, published 2001. Revised and updated in 2018 for Aurora Metro.

Read more on my history with Jane Campion here.

You can listen to me talk about Jane Campion's The Piano on The Cinematologists Podcast and on Jane Campion more broadly on ABC Australia Overnights.


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