Arts & Entertainment

Venice Festival marks NZ director Campion film return after 12 years

By Magdalena Tsanis

Venice, Italy, Sep 2 (EFE).- Twelve years after her last film, director Jane Campion is back with The Power of the Dog, a Western set to premiere at the 78th Venice International Film Festival’s second day.

The screenwriter and film director from New Zealand takes on the themes of masculinity and repression through a male-centric drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

In terms of gender, “I do not calculate,” Campion said in a press conference.

The kiwi became the first woman to win Cannes Film Festival’s highest Palme d’Or award for ‘The Piano’ in 1993.

“I read this book and I just thought this is an amazing piece of literature. Scenes and themes from the book kept coming back to me and I couldn’t forget it,” she added.

The upcoming film, based on a novel of the same name by Thomas Savage and set in 1925 Montana, revolves around imposing cowboy Phil and his brother George Burbank (Jesse Plemons).

The wealthy brothers are pitted against each other when George marries Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and decides to bring her to the ranch, along with her son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Phil starts to torment them.

“His toxicity is a product of his upbringing,” said Cumberbatch.

“It’s part of who he is. It’s part of his flaw and personal tragedy. I understand that he is repressed, isolated and worried about what he has created being taken away,” he added.

Campion’s previous film was Bright Star, which came out in 2009 and was a Plame d’Or nominee in Cannes. She then wrote and directed the drama television series Top of the Lake, starring Elizabeth Moss.

Campion said she had a great time working on the television series but, for her, two hours is the perfect format.

“The discipline and the rigor of those two hours was something I was excited to go back to,” she explained.

The Power of the Dog is produced by Netflix and is set to be released on the streaming service in November.

“One of the great things about working with Netflix was that it gave me an opportunity to work with a budget I haven’t had the chance to work with before, to fully express my vision,” Campion underlined.

Campion is one of the five female filmmakers competing for Venice’s top prize, the Golden Lion, amid a male-dominated lineup of nominees.

“I know the statistics still aren’t in women’s favor. It’s a great loss for everyone that there aren’t feminine voices describing our world and who we are,” she said.

Campion, however, expressed her optimism and stressed that she believed the MeToo movement had brought about an irreversible change.EFE


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