On 20 May in a quiet villa set back from the Croisette in Cannes, EWA Network team were thrilled to meet the legendary Jane Campion, whose film “The piano” amongst others, had influenced us all so much in different ways over the years. Fresh from an intense brainstorming meeting and the whirlwind of the previous Sunday evening EWA networking happy hour which brought together over 300 guests – from throughout the world - there was a certain late Cannes weariness amongst some members of the team.
However, once we stepped through the gates to the villa and settled down around a table, under the South France trees, to chat to Jane Campion we all felt immediately a sense of inspiration, calm and determination in the presence of the only woman ever to have won a Palme d’Or.
EWA Network team explained its goals and objectives: including to strive to increase the numbers of female directors, to work towards a more balanced representation of women in audiovisual content and to promote co-productions. Jane Campion was extremely supportive of the network and generous in sharing with us her own experience in the film world… from being rather undervalued for her artistic approach to film at a traditional film school, to being initially criticized for her work to later becoming an acclaimed director, who has just been awarded the “Carrosse d’Or” for her contribution to the film world.
Jane Campion offered a range of incredibly useful tips including the fact that as a woman and as a girl we are traditionally less used to receiving criticism, whereas this was an inevitable component of being a director whose latest work could be heavily attacked by critics at any time. So it is important to be thick-skinned. Another tip was that a distance should be created between what you do in the film world and then in real life. Having strong passion for your work was another insider tip as was being a good critique of your own work and being able to be humble.
Campion also offered some practical advice to EWA Network which it will be putting into practice when it approaches politicians and public funds: “be tough on the money politics and then be elegant” which we loved and will certainly be adapting as an approach; her main motto above all was: “don’t allow anyone to stop you from doing what you want to do – women are equally as capable as man in directing movies, so they need to be tough, intelligent and clear minded.”
We all left her company a little more inspired and even more determined to keep on striving to address gender imbalance in the film world and above all to encourage women to make films…