skip navigation
share:
Remind Me

Jane Campion Shorts

Before Jane Campion earned international acclaim for the low-budget feature Sweetie (1989), she already revealed a great deal of promise with three short films that she made while a student at the Australian Film and Television School: Peel (1982), Passionless Moments (1983-4) and A Girl's Own Story (1983-4). The shorts were screened at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival together with her freshly completed television film Two Friends (1986), and Peel ultimately won the Palme d'Or for best short film, a remarkable achievement for a first-time competitor. The three shorts subsequently played at other film festivals around the world, often distributed as a package. Taken together, they reveal a striking visual sense and a gift for observing the tricky world of human relationships through memorably offbeat characters.

Born in New Zealand in 1954, Jane Campion studied anthropology at Victoria University in Wellington and later moved to Australia to study at the Sydney College of the Arts, where she made a Super 8 film entitled Tissues (1980). She was subsequently admitted to the Australian Film and Television School, where her work encountered some resistance among the faculty. She recalled in a 1984 interview: "The people at the AFTS loathed Peel when they saw a first cut of it. They told me not to bother finishing it. I was quite vain so I found that really upsetting, but it was good for me. I cut out everything that was remotely extraneous and made the film a lot better. The AFTS people thought I was arrogant and not particularly talented. There were people there more talented than I was, but my talent wasn't the kind they were every going to understand, which was one of the luckiest things for me."

Peel (1982)

The full title of Peel is actually An Exercise in Discipline: Peel. The ten-minute film depicts a father's bid to enforce discipline on his son by stopping the car to have him pick up pieces of orange peel that he tossed out the window, and how this conflict is complicated by shifting alliances amongst the three family members in the car. Appropriately, a title card identifies the three characters by their dual roles: Brother/Father, Sister/Aunt, and Son/Nephew. During a 1985 interview in the Sydney newspaper National Times, Campion characterized the film as a "family portrait"inspired by the Pye family in real life: "Katie Pye [...] and her family were quite angry with each other at the time. But they were honest because when they read the script I'd written about them they laughed and said, 'Yes, that's us.' Not many people would admit that."Incidentally, Ulla Ryghe, the producer, served as Ingmar Bergman's chief film editor during the 1960s.

Producer: Ulla Ryghe
Director: Jane Campion
Screenplay: Jane Campion
Cinematography: Sally Bongers
Film Editing: Jane Campion
Cast: Tim Pye (Brother/Father), Katie Pye (Sister/Aunt), Ben Martin (Son/Nephew).
C-9m.

Passionless Moments (1984)

Co-written and co-directed by Campion's boyfriend Gerald Lee, Passionless Moments consists of ten vignettes, accompanied by a pompous BBC-style narrator, in which various characters have individual moments of strange epiphany (or non-epiphany) in their mundane lives. Some critics have remarked on the influence of David Lynch on Campion's early work--an influence which she openly acknowledges--and it's especially evident here. The film won an award for Best Experimental Film at the 1984 Australian Film Awards.

Producer: Jane Campion, Gerard Lee
Director: Jane Campion, Gerard Lee
Screenplay: Jane Campion, Gerard Lee
Cinematography: Jane Campion
Film Editing: Veronika Jenet
Art Direction: Kerith Holmes
Cast: David Benton (Ed Tumbury), Ann Burriman (Gwen Gilbert), Alan Brown (Neighbor), Sean Callinan (Jim Newbury), Paul Chubb (Jim Simpson), Sue Collie (Angela Elliott).
BW-13m.

A Girl's Own Story (1984)

A Girl's Own Story is the most ambitious and emotionally complex of Campion's short films. Set in the early Sixties, it focuses on Pam, a young adolescent who is caught in the middle of Beatlemania, sexual yearning, and a tense family life. The camerawork often suggests her subjective experience of the world; in particular, one sequence where she floats up the stairs recalls German Expressionist cinema or possibly experimental cinema such as Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon (1943). The film is also noteworthy for the frankness with which it handles the emotional consequences of molestation and incest. Already, we can see how Jane Campion's directorial vision will develop into the richly eccentric and disturbing worlds of Sweetie (1989), An Angel at My Table (1990), and The Piano (1993).

Director: Jane Campion
Screenplay: Jane Campion
Cinematography: Sally Bongers
Film Editing: Christopher Lancaster
Music: Alex Proyas
Cast: Gabrielle Shornegg (Pam), Geraldine Haywood (Stella), Marina Knight (Gloria), John Godden (Graeme), Joanne Gabbe (Sister), Colleen Fitzpatrick (Mother).
BW-27m.

VIEW TCMDb ENTRY