Jane Campion's directorial debut, the short film Peel, won the Palme D'or at the Cannes Film Festival. She directed numerous award-winning short films before making her feature debut with Sweetie, which 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 nine 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.
The Portrait of a Lady closed the Venice Film Festival in 1996, was nominated for two 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 and directed and co-wrote, with Susanna Moore, In the Cut. The film opened the London Film Festival. Jane wrote and directed Bright Star which screened in Official Competition in Cannes in 2009. Jane 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 2013 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 the same year, she was the recipient of an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award.
At the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, she was head of the jury for the main competition section. In 2015, Campion played an essential role in establishing an annual scholarship programme for female directors through the New Zealand Film Commission.
Jane completed Top of the Lake, a six hour miniseries for the BBC and The Sundance Channel, in 2013. She created and wrote the series 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, and has received eight Emmy Award nominations. Filming of the second season began in March 2016; it is due to air later in the same year.
Campion was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to film in the Queen’s 2016 New Year Honours.