125th anniversary of Suffrage in New Zealand

An Angel at My Table screens at Venice Film Festival

5 September 1990

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Based on the autobiographies of Janet Frame and originally made as a three-part TV drama, An angel at my table achieved cinematic release in 35 countries and won multiple awards, including a Grand Special Jury prize in Venice.

In an article for British newspaper The Guardian, 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 through to her growing recognition as an internationally successful writer. It includes powerful portrayals of the trauma she endured throughout her early life, including the misdiagnosis with schizophrenia which led to her receiving electroconvulsive therapy. The film launched the career of New Zealand actress Kerry Fox and encouraged wider readership of Frame’s work.

Three years later Campion won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for her next film, The piano, making her 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. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/jan/19/fiction5

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