Kiwis win Oscars for The piano

21 March 1994

Three Oscar winners for The piano; left to right: Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin, Jane Campion (Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, 6416_1991)

Eleven-year-old Anna Paquin became the first New Zealander to win an Academy Award for acting when she was named best supporting actress for her role as Flora McGrath in the acclaimed historical drama, The piano. Paquin was the second youngest recipient of this award in Oscar history.

Jane Campion, the film’s writer and director, chose the then nine-year-old Paquin from 5000 candidates who attended an open audition in New Zealand. Despite having no acting experience, Paquin impressed Campion with a monologue about Flora’s father.

The film reached the pinnacle of success for cinema worldwide, winning the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes and three Oscars at the 1994 awards. Along with Paquin’s statuette, Campion won the award for best original screenplay, while American actor Holly Hunter won the best actress Oscar for her portrayal of Ada McGrath, Flora’s mother.

In 2013 Campion revealed that she had originally intended Hunter’s character to die at the end of the film, but changed her mind during shooting.

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