NYFF31: Jane Campion’s “The Piano”


Oscar winners Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin in Jane Campion's The Piano (1993)

With The Piano, her third appearance at the NYFF, New Zealand auteur Jane Campion was catapulted into the realm of widespread visibility. The film garnered a variety of international acclaim, including Academy Awards for its screenplay and its two stars, Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin (who respectively won Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress), as well as sharing the Palm d'Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival with Farewell My Concubine (which also played at the NYFF31 in 1993), in addition to Hunter winning the Best Actress award there. The Piano will be screening tonight at 6:30pm as part of our 50 Years of the New York Film Festival series, followed by a Skype Q&A with Campion herself!

With a career spanning seven feature films so far, Campion has established herself as one of contemporary cinema’s most unique voices, crafting films that are as impressionistic as they are harshly honest. She has tackled a diverse array of settings and subjects, from the comedic dysnfunction of two Australian sisters in Sweetie to a shy school teacher navigating the psychosexual urban jungle of New York City in In The Cut to the 19th century English romance between John Keats and Fanny Brawne in Bright Star, all of which evocatively explore the lives of women on the cusp of emotional discovery.

This thematic concern is at the forefront of The Piano. Set during the 1800s, the film follows a mute Scottish woman named Ada who, on behalf of an arrangement made by her father, travels with her daughter Flora to New Zealand to marry an affluent landowner named Alistair (played by Sam Neill.) Her only means of pleasure seems to come from playing her piano, which Alistair trades for land with Baines (Harvey Keitel), an eccentric fellow landowner. Baines makes a deal with Ada to eventually give the piano back to her in return for sexual favors. Ada’s relationship with Baines grows from purely physical to emotional, igniting a chain of events that jeopardize her marriage to Alistair and her most prized possession.

Combine tonight's screening with a meal at Indie Food and Wine in our Film Center with our unbeatable Dinner and a Movie deal for just $25! And make sure to check out the rest of the 50 Years of NYFF lineup for the year, including next Tuesday's screening of seminal basketball documentary Hoop Dreams (NYFF '94), with director/editor Steve James, producer/editor Frederick Marx, producer/cinematographer Peter Gilbert and subject Arthur Agee in person for a Q&A!

Below is a list of films that played alongisdeThe Piano at NYFF '93:
Short Cuts
Robert Altman, USA, 1993

Ailen Wournos: The Selling of a Serial Killer
Nick Broomfield, USA, 1993
Shown with Small Change, David Farr, UK

"Avant-Garde Visions"
Dottie Gets Spanked
Todd Haynes, USA, 1993
Passage a l'acte
Martin Arnold, Austria
Poverties
Laurie Dunphy, USA

Birthplace
Pavel Lozinski, Poland, 1992
Shown with Libertas, Zoran Jovanovic, Yugoslavia, and The Unproductives, Pierre Isoad, France

Blue
Derek Jarman, UK, 1993
Shown with Sleepy Haven, Mathias Müller, Germany

Blue (Trois couleurs: Bleu)
Krzysztof Kieslowki, France/Switzerland/Poland, 1993
Shown with Derrailement, Unni Straume, France/Norway

The Blue KIte
Tian Zhuangzhuang, Hing Kong/China, 1993

Calendar
Atom Egoyan, Canada/Germany/Armenia, 1993
Shown with Moving In (Le déménagement)
Chantal Ackerman, France, 1993
Shown with Just Desserts, Monica Pellizzari, Australia

Farewell My Concubine (Ba wang bie ji)
Kaige Chen, China/Hong Kong, 1993

Fiorile
Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani, Italy/France/Germany, 1993

It's All True: Based on an Unfinished Film by Orson Welles
Bill Krohn, Myron Meisel and Richard Wilson, Brazil/France/USA, 1993
Shown with Humboldt Street Family, Luciano Moura, Brazil

Naked
Mike Leigh, UK, 1993
Shown with These Boots, Aki Kaurismäki, Finland

The Night (Al-Leil)
Mohamad Alas, Syria/Lebanon/France, 1992

The Puppetmaster 
Hsiao-Hsien Hou, Taiwan, 1993

Raining Stones
Mike Leigh, UK, 1993
Shown with The Darra Dogs, Dennis Tupicoff, Australia

Ruby in Paradise
Victor Nuñez, USA, 1993
Shown with Excursions to the Bridge of Friendship, Christina Andreef, Australia

The Scent of the Green Papaya 
Anh Dung Tran, France, 1993
Shown with First Train, Dicky Irawan, Indonesia

Shades of Doubt (L'ombre du doute)
Aline Isserman, France, 1993
Shown with Grown Up, Joanna Priestly, USA

The Snapper
Stephen Frears, UK, 1993
Shown with Dinner with Malibu, Jon Carnoy, France

The Story of a Cheat
Sacha Guitry, France, 1936
Shown with The Taste of Iron, Rémi Bernard, France

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
Henry Selick, USA, 1993.
Shown with Vincent, Tim Burton, 1982

Totally F***ed Up
Gregg Araki, USA, 1993
Shown with Coffee and Cigarettes, Jim Jarmusch, USA

Valley of Abraham aka Abraham's Valley
Manoel de Oliviera, Portugal/France/Switzerland, 1993

The War Room
Chris Hedegus/D.A. Pennebaker, USA, 1993
Shown with Hoping for Better Times, Jonas Raber, Switzerland

Wendemi (Wendemi, l'enfant du bon dieu)
S. Pierre Yameogo, Burkina Faso/France/Switzerland, 1993
Shown with Untrue Stories, Cezary Jaworski/John Petrizelli, Venezuela

The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl
Ray Müller, Germany/Belgium/UK, 1993

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