Jane Campion (born Elizabeth Jane Campion,]30 April 1954) is a New Zealand screenwriter, producer, and director based in Australia. Campion is the second of four women ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and is also the first female filmmaker in history to receive the Palme d’Or for directing the acclaimed film The Piano (1993).

Jane was born in Wellington, New Zealand, the second daughter of Edith (née Beverley Georgette Hannah), an actress, writer, and heiress, and Richard M. Campion, a theater and opera director. Jane grew up in the world of New Zealand theatre – her parents founded the New Zealand Players theatre group. While initially rejecting the idea of a career in theater or acting, Jane graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the Victoria University of Wellington in 1975. In 1976 Campion attended Chelsea Art School in London and travelled throughout Europe. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in painting at the Sydney College of the Arts in Australia in 1979. Based on her education at Chelsea Art School and the Sydney College of the Arts Campion cites surrealist painter Frida Kahlo and sculptor Joseph Beuys as major influences throughout her career. Dissatisfied with the limits of painting as a medium Campion turned to film and created her first short film, Tissues in 1980. In 1981 she began studying at the Australian Film and Television School, where she made several more short films, and graduated in 1984.

Leaving the Australian Film and Television School she directed an episode for ABC’s light entertainment series Dancing Daze (1986), which led to her first TV film, Two Friends (1986) produced by Jan Chapman. However Sweetie (1989) was her feature debut, and won international awards. Further recognition followed with An Angel at My Table (1990), a biographical and psychological portrayal of the New Zealand poet Janet Frame. International recognition followed with another Palme d’Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival for The Piano, which won the best director award from the Australian Film Institute and an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1994. At the 66th Academy Awards, she was the second woman ever to be nominated for Best Director.

Campion’s work since that time has tended to polarize opinion. The Portrait of a Lady (1996), based on the Henry James novel, featured Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey and Martin Donovan. Holy Smoke! (1999) teamed Campion again with Harvey Keitel, this time with Kate Winslet as the female lead. In the Cut (2003), an erotic thriller based on Susanna Moore’s bestseller, provided Meg Ryan an opportunity to depart from her more familiar onscreen persona. Her 2009 film Bright Star, a biographical drama about poet John Keats (played by Ben Whishaw) and his lover Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), was shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 1992, Jane married Colin David Englert, an Australian who worked as a second unit director on The Piano. Their first child, a son named Jasper, was born in 1993 but lived for only 12 days. The couple divorced when their second child, actress Alice Englert, was 7.

From the beginning of her career Campion’s work has received high praise from critics all around. In V.W. Wexman’s Jane Campion: Interviews, critic David Thomson describes Campion, “as one of the best young directors in the world today.” Similarly, in Sue Gillett’s “More Than Meets The Eye: The Mediation of Affects [sic] in Jane Campion’s Sweetie,” Campion’s work is described as, “perhaps the fullest and truest way of being faithful to the reality of experiences,” by utilising the “unsayable” and “unseeable” she manages to catalyse audience speculation. Campion’s films tend to gravitate around gender politics, such as seduction and female sexual power. This frequent theme has lead some to label Campion’s body of work as feminist, however, Rebecca Flint Marx argues, “while not inaccurate, [the feminist label] fails to fully capture the dilemmas of her characters and the depth of her work.”