Top BAFTAS for Campion's The Power of the Dog

Dame Jane Campion's dark western The Power of the Dog, filmed in Otago, has scooped the top two honours at the British Academy Film Awards, winning best film and director for the New Zealander.

Earlier this year, Campion won the Golden Globe and Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival for best director. 

Dame Jane Campion. Photo: Getty Images
Dame Jane Campion. Photo: Getty Images
The Power of the Dog was also judged best film at the Golden Globes and leads the nominations for this year's Academy Awards, with 12 for the Netflix film. The Oscars will be held on March 27.

Based on the 1967 novel by Thomas Savage, the critically-acclaimed movie set on a 1920s Montana ranch marks the return of Oscar winner Campion to feature films since 2009’s Bright Star.

"Jane ... you are a visionary whose trail blazed through the last 30 years of cinema with stories about the silenced, the under-represented and the misunderstood," producer Tanya Seghatchian said as she accepted the award on behalf of Campion, who was absent.

"You've inspired legions of women to find their voices. We're here because of you."

Campion later briefly appeared via a video call on the phone of one of the film's producers during the winners' press conference, and said she was "overwhelmed".

Campion became the first woman nominated twice for best director with her nod for Power of the Dog. She was a contender for her 1993 film The Piano, but lost out that year to Steven Spielberg, who won for Schindler's List.  Only two women, Kathryn Bigelow and Chloe Zhao, have taken home the directing honour.

The Power of the Dog star Benedict Cumberbatch was at the BAFTAS in London and spoke about working with Campion:

Campion responds to actor's criticism 

It was a successful weekend for Campion, after winning the top honours at the Directors Guild of America awards in Beverly Hills on Saturday, where she called actor Sam Elliott "a little bit sexist" and a "b****" for criticising Power of the Dog.

Last week Elliott, known for his westerns,  slammed the film for its driving theme of repressed homosexuality and for being filmed in New Zealand, claiming Campion didn't know anything about the American West.

"I'm sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H. I'm sorry to say it but he's not a cowboy, he's an actor," she told a reporter from Variety. The West is a mythic space and there's a lot of room on the range. I think it's a little bit sexist.

"I consider myself a creator. I think he thinks of me as a woman or something lesser first."

Elliott's initial comments were made during an interview on Marc Maron's WTF podcast a couple of weeks ago.

Other BAFTA winners 

Hosted by Australian actress and comedian Rebel Wilson, this year's ceremony, known as the BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) returned as a usual glitzy red carpet event at London's Royal Albert Hall, following a virtual event last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

There were references to the war in Ukraine, with some nominees wearing ribbons and badges in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag or speaking about the crisis on the red carpet and on stage.

Dune, a mammoth adaptation of Frank Herbert's 1965 novel, had lead nominations with 11 nods, mainly in the creative and technical categories. It won five awards.

Belfast, Kenneth Brannagh's semi-autobiographical black and white comedy drama set at the onset of Northern Ireland's three decades of conflict, won outstanding British film.

Spielberg's West Side Story remake won two awards, including best supporting actress for Ariana DeBose.

Fresh from his win at the Screen Actors Guild awards, Troy Katsur, who is deaf, won supporting actor for CODA, a coming-of-age story about the only hearing member of a deaf family.

"This is a historic moment because it's been an extremely long time for folks to really accept a different perspective of the deaf community and deaf actors," Kotsur told Reuters on the red carpet via an interpreter.

"Finally they look at me not as a deaf person, but as an artist and an actor who happens to be deaf."

An absent Will Smith won the leading actor award for playing the father of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams in King Richard, while Joanna Scanlan won leading actress for portraying a widow who discovers her late husband's devastating secret in After Love.

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