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. She directed numerous award-winning short films before making her feature debut with SWEETIE, which premiered in competition at Cannes Film Festival. 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 Cannes Film Festival, the first of only two women to win the award, 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 (1999) which screened at Venice Film Festival, was Nominated for Golden Lion and Won Elvira Notari Prize. She directed and co-wrote, with Susanna Moore, IN THE CUT (2003). The film had its premiere at Toronto International Film Festival and opened the London Film Festival. Jane wrote and directed BRIGHT STAR which screened in Official Competition in Cannes in 2009. She 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 LAKE, a six hour miniseries, produced by See Saw Films for the BBC and The Sundance Channel which she created and wrote with her longtime 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 and won for Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie. The miniseries also received recognition at BAFTAs, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Critics Choice Television Awards and PGA Awards. Jane created and teamed up with Gerard Lee to write TOP OF THE LAKE CHINA GIRL which went to air in 2017. Jane executive produced and directed two of the six episodes. The series screened at Cannes Film Festival as part of their 70th anniversary celebrations.
Jane wrote, directed and produced the feature film, THE POWER OF THE DOG which premiered at Venice Film Festival in 2021 where Jane was awarded The Silver Lion for Best Director. Jane went on to win many more awards including Academy Award for Best Director, BAFTA Awards Best Film and Best Director and Golden Globes Best Motion Picture & Best Director Motion Picture. Jane was also the recipient of the Silver Medallion at Telluride Film Festival, the Louve d’honneur at Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Prix Lumière at Lumière Film Festival, Lyon, Director’s Tribute at The Gotham Film & Media Institute and Lifetime Achievement Award at Stockholm Film Festival.
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 New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2019 she joined the World Cinema Dramatic Jury at Sundance Film Festival.