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Jane Campion to Receive Lyon Festival’s Lumiere Award

jane Campion, The Piano
Courtesy of Everett Collection

Director Jane Campion is to receive the Prix Lumiere at the Lumiere Festival in October, it was announced on Monday.

The prestigious honor adds another twist to the already complicated relationship between the Cannes Film Festival, streaming giant Netflix and the leading female director.

Cannes is believed to have offered an out of competition slot in this year’s selection to Campion’s latest film “The Power of the Dog.” But the film is produced for Netflix, which has a testy relationship with Cannes over the festival’s insistence that competition films must receive a French theatrical release.

As that policy would mean a delay of three years before Netflix could play its own movie, it declined and is understood to have taken up an offer to premiere at the rival Venice festival, which kicks off late August.

Campion, however, is an emblematic director for Cannes. She won a Palme d’Or in 1982 for her short film “An Exercise in Discipline: Peel” and in 1993 won another Golden Palm (shared with Chen Kaige’s “Farewell My Concubine”) for her feature “The Piano.” She was also the first woman to win the Palme d´Or and the first female filmmaker to serve as president of the jury at Cannes.

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But if Cannes’ artistic director Thierry Fremaux feels hurt by Venice’s move on Campion, the Lumiere Award may be his way of bringing the wayward talent back on side. Fremaux is also director of the Lumiere Institute in his Lyon home town.

“Jane Campion had reached the summit (with ‘The Piano’), where she has remained ever since,” said the Lumiere Festival. “Whether it is ‘Portrait of a Lady’ (1996), a Henry James adaptation, starring Nicole Kidman and John Malkovich, the New Age road trip ‘Holy Smoke,’ which revealed Kate Winslet’s art of subtlety, the virtuoso thriller ‘In the Cut,’ a remarkable foray into the genre film with Meg Ryan, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Mark Ruffalo, or ‘Bright Star,’ an evocation in the form of a masterpiece on the life of the poet John Keats — all of her films constitute an event, all the more so due to their rarity. In just seven feature films in 20 years, Jane Campion has created a unique filmography and cinema that are at once personal and universal.”

Campion will be the 13th recipient of the award and follows in the footsteps of greats including Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Francis Ford Coppola, Jane Fonda, Wong Kar-wai, Catherine Deneuve, Martin Scorsese, Pedro Almodóvar, Quentin Tarantino, Ken Loach, Gérard Depardieu, Milos Forman and Clint Eastwood.

Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” is the tale of two brothers, both farmers in Montana. Their characters are opposites and they have become sworn rivals. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst, the film is adapted from the 1967 novel by Thomas Savage (not the more recent drug crime thriller by Don Winslow with the same title).