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An Angel at My Table screens at Venice Film Festival

5 September 1990

Janet Frame
Janet Frame (back) poses with the actresses who portrayed her at different ages in An Angel at My Table (Te Ara)

Based on the autobiographies of Janet Frame and originally made as a three-part drama for television, An angel at my table was shown in cinemas in 35 countries and won multiple awards, including a Grand Special Jury prize in Venice.

In an article for British newspaper The Guardian, director Jane Campion recalled:

At the Venice Film Festival, the reaction to it was unlike that to any other film of mine, before or after … It was not the best film at the festival, but it was the most loved. When it was awarded the second prize … the crowd wouldn't allow the head of the jury to announce the winner. For 10 minutes they chanted, ‘Angel, Angel, Angel, Angel’. [1]

The visually striking and poetic film follows Frame from childhood to international recognition as a writer. It includes powerful portrayals of the trauma she endured throughout her early life, including a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia which led to her receiving electroconvulsive therapy. The film launched the career of New Zealand actor Kerry Fox and encouraged a wider readership to discover Frame’s work.

Three years later Campion won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for her next film, The piano. She was the first (and in 2020 still the only) woman to receive this award.

[1] Campion, Jane. ‘In Search of Janet Frame’, The Guardian. 19 January 2008.

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An Angel at My Table screens at Venice Film Festival, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated