Jane studied at the Australian Film Television and Radio School and her short film PEEL won Best Short Film Palme d’Or in 1986 at Cannes Film Festival. Her feature debut, SWEETIE,  premiered in competition at Cannes. The film won the George Seoul Prize in 1989 for Best Foreign Film, the Los Angeles Film Critics’ New Generation Award, the American Spirit of Independence Award for Best Foreign Feature and the Australian Critics Award for Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress.

AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 1990 where it won seven prizes, including The Silver Lion. It won the American Spirit of Independence Award, gathered prizes at the Toronto and Berlin Film Festivals and was voted most popular film at the 1990 Sydney Film Festival.

Jane wrote and directed THE PIANO which received more than 30 international awards including the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and 9 Academy Award nominations winning three awards including Best Screenplay.  Other awards include Best Director from The New York Film Critics Circle, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Australian Film Critics and nominations as Best Director from the Directors Guild of America, BAFTA and Great Britain’s Guild of Regional Film Writers. The film won Best Picture at the AFI Awards. Jane remains today the only female director to be awarded the Palme D’Or in Cannes.

THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY closed the Venice Film Festival in 1996, was nominated for 2 Academy Awards and garnered the Francesco Pasinetti Award for Best Film by the National Union of Film Journalists.   Jane co-wrote, with her sister Anna, and directed HOLY SMOKE (1999) and directed and co-wrote, with Susanna Moore, IN THE CUT (2003).  The film opened the London Film Festival. Jane wrote and directed BRIGHT STAR which screened in Official Competition in Cannes in 2009.  She also  wrote and directed two short films, THE WATER DIARY (2005), developed with the United Nations Development Program in order to promote the Millennium Development Goals campaign launched by Kofi Annan in 2000 and THE LADY BUG (2006) commissioned by the Cannes Film Festival as a tribute to cinema for their 60th anniversary.  

In 2012 Jane completed TOP OF THE LAKEa six hour miniseries for the BBC and The Sundance Channel which she created and wrote with her long-time collaborator, Gerard Lee.  Jane also  executive produced and directed three of the six episodes. TOP OF THE LAKE is the first television miniseries to  screen at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals.  It  received 8 Emmy Award nominations.  Jane created and once again co-write, with Gerard Lee, TOP OF THE LAKE CHINA GIRL which premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2017.  Jane executive produced and directed two of the six episodes.  Jane is currently in pre for a feature film, THE POWER OF THE DOG.

Jane was awarded the Carosse D’or Prize by Societe de Realisateurs de Film in recognition of “innovative qualities, courage and independent mindedness” presented on the opening of Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. She was the President of the Jury at the 67th Festival de Cannes and was awarded the Legion of Honour from the French Cultural Minister in 2014. In 2016 Jane was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In 2019 Jane joined the jury at the Sundance Film Festival.

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