An Angel at My Table

1990, Jane Campion, New Zealand

Director: Jane Campion
Producer: Bridget Ikin
Screenplay: Laura Jones, based on
  the autobiographies by Janet Frame
Photography: Stuart Dryburgh
Editor: Veronika Haussler
Music: Don McGlashan
Kerry Fox (Janet)
Alexia Keogh (Young Janet)
Karen Fergusson (Teenage Janet)
Iris Churn (Mother)
Kevin J Wilson (Father)
Francesca Collins (Baby Jane)
Melina Bernecker (Myrtle)


Rating: PG coarse language Runtime: 154 minutes

The opening sequence of An Angel at My Table is among the most iconic of New Zealand cinema: a solitary Janet, aged about six, strides down a rural gravel road towards the camera. Her bright frizzy red hair and stocky frame cuts a sharp contrast to the surrounding pastoral landscape.

Our focus as viewers is this incongruous little character and the story of her remarkable life, from her austere childhood in Otago, to her years institutionalised and misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, and finally, to international literary fame.

Jane Campion’s ambitious debut feature brings Janet Frame’s trilogy of vivid autobiographies (To The Is-Land, An Angel at My Table, and The Envoy From Mirror City) to life, with scenes of childhood that will feel familiar to many. Campion herself, having heard rumours of Frame as a “mad” person locked in an asylum, was struck by how much the childhood Frame describes in To The Is-land resembled her own. This is an empathetic portrait of the artist which underscores her singularity among New Zealand letters.

“The making of Janet the artist is intimately connected with the development of Janet the maturing human being. When the film does suggest a painful existence for the inwardly-focused, isolated artist within society, it is not a far stretch from the brutal norms expected of all of us in some way; fears of humiliation, cruelty and death are common to all. An Angel at My Table is remarkable for its attention to detail, for its pure, striking and resonant images, and for its appreciation of human idiosyncrasies.” – Isabella McNeill, Senses of Cinema 

An Angel At My Table screens courtesy of Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission


May 20 2024


6:15 pm - 8:50 pm