Jane Campion to lead Cannes Film Festival jury

New Zealander filmmaker Jane Campion is to lead the 2014 Cannes Film Festival competition jury, which will be tasked in handing out the prestigious Palm D’or and other top prizes to the approximately 20 competing films.

Campion was thrilled to receive this honour, she said in a statement posted on the festival’s website. “It is this world wide inclusiveness and passion for film at the heart of the festival which makes the importance of the Cannes Film Festival indisputable.”  she added. “It is a mythical and exciting festival where amazing things can happen, actors are discovered, films are financed careers are made, I know this because that is what happened to me!”

In 1993, Campion made history in Cannes when she became the first and only female director to win the Palm for “The Piano,” which went on to garner her an Oscar for Best Screenplay. The film, which tells the story of a mute mail-order bride who arrives to New Zealand with a large Piano, also netted Academy awards for actresses Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin.

Most recently, Campion and Hunter reunited on a television series “Top of The Lake,” which played in Sundance and screened on BBC 2. The show has received critical praise and a nomination at this year’s Golden Globes.

Campion succeeds Steven Spielberg, who presided over last year’s jury that handed the Palm D’Or to the highly controversial french drama “Blue Is the Warmest Colour,” which has become one of the most talked about movie of the year due to its explicit lesbian sex scenes and the infighting between the director and his cast.

The festival, considered the most prestigious in the world, is scheduled to be held May 14-24.