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“AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE was adapted from the autobiographies of distinguished New Zealand novelist, Janet Frame (To the Is-Land, An Angel at my Table, The Envoy from Mirror City).

“Jane Campion brings to the screen the harrowing true-life story of Janet Frame, New Zealand’s most distinguished author.  The film follows Frame along her inspiring journey, from a poverty-stricken childhood to a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia and electroshock therapy to, finally, international literary fame.  Beautifully capturing the colour and power of the New Zealand landscape, the film earned Campion a sweep of her country’s film awards and the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

“Festival/Awards: Special Jury Prize, Venice; Critics Prize, Toronto; Valladolid.” - New Zealand Film Commission;; 28/01/2014.

“Here is the story of a curly-haired little redhead who grew up to be one of New Zealand's best authors, after enduring ordeals that would have put most people into a madhouse. The irony is that she was already in the madhouse, misdiagnosed as a schizophrenic, and subjected to more than 200 electroshock treatments even though there was nothing really wrong with her except for shyness and depression.

Janet Frame is today the author of some 20 novels, books of poetry, plays and autobiographies. The first two books were actually written and published while she was in a mental hospital, and it is possible to wonder if the act of writing them saved her life - giving her a place to order her thoughts in the middle of chaos.

Jane Campion's "An Angel at My Table" tells her story in a way that I found strangely engrossing from beginning to end. This is not a hyped-up biopic or a soap opera, but simply the record of a life as lived, beginning in childhood with a talented, dreamy girl whose working-class parents loved her, and continuing to follow her as she was gradually shunted by society into a place that almost killed her. Janet is played in the film by three different actresses (from girlhood through her 20s into her 30s, they are Kerry Fox, Alexia Keogh and Karen Fergusson), who have uncanny physical and personality similarities, and so we get a real sense of a life as it unfolds, as things go wrong and a strong spirit struggles to prevail.

Her books help her keep her mind, and eventually help her win her release - her father, cowed by the professionals, vows he will never let her go back to the asylum again - and at last, in her 30s, her true life begins as she gets a grant to study abroad and falls in with a group of bohemian writers and painters in Spain. She even finally loses her virginity, and although she will always be a little odd, a loner, wrapped in a cocoon of privacy, we can see her gradually becoming more comfortable with life. ” Roger Ebert (

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Year 1990

Reference number F22794

Source Moving Image Collection

Media type Moving Image

Place of Production NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Genre Feature

Duration 2:32:00

Production company Hibiscus Films

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Credits Director: Jane Campion Producer: Bridget Ikin Director of Photography: Stuart Dryburgh Writer: Laura Jones Editor: Veronika Haussler Music: Don McGlashan Cast: Kerry Fox , Alexia Keogh , Karen Fergusson , Iris Churn , Jessie Mune , Kevin J Wilson , Francesca Collins , Melina Bernecker , Mark Morrison , Katherine Murray-Cowper , Mark Thomson , Brenda Kendall , Paul Moffat , Blair Hutchison , David McAuslAn , Ailene Herring , Faye Flegg , Carla Hedgeman , Timothy Bartlett , Richard Mills , Sassy Acorn , Tony Creamer , Hamish McFarlane , Geoff Barlow , Samantha Townsley , Sarah Llewellyn , Christopher Lawrence , Edith Campion , Fiona Kay , Brian Flegg , Eileen Clark , Margaret Gordon , Caroline Somerville , Lilian Enting , Fiona Brown , Maureen Duffy , Karla Smith , Willa O'Neill , Fritha Stalker , Melanie Reid , Natasha Gray , Kelly Stewart , Andrew Binns , Glynis Angell , Susan McGregor , Erin Mills , Virginia Brocklehurst , Natalie Ellis , Eddie Hegan , Sarah Smuts-Kennedy , Colin McColl , Erin Dorricott , Francene Clark , Doreen Donnell , Alistair Douglas , Rod Collison , Harry Lavington , Sheryl Stewart , Cushla Ashton , Jacqueline O'Rourke , Joy Trow , June Shane , Annabelle Lomas , Ann Coc-Kroft , David Stott , Elizabeth McRae , Jim Rawdon , Peter Brunt , Celia Nicholson , Peter Needham , Joshua Cole , Joshua Cole , Ian Hendl , Ian Hendl , Martyn Sanderson , Jessica Wilcox , Mark Clare , Helene Anderson , Joan Foster , David Letch , Rob Jayne , Sharon Marsden , Colette Cooper , Paul Norell , Julia Calvo , Carlos Martínez , Maria Matias , Michael Harry , Maria Mercedes Moroto , Paula Sánchez , Timothy Smith , Alison Bruce , William Brandt , Gwyneth Hugues , Gerald Bryan , Billie Atkinson , Peter Dennett , David McKenzie , Eleanor Wragge , Caroline Flint , Rachel Hernandez , Patrick Griffiths Art Directorn: Jackie Gilmore Art Directorn: Grant Major Assistant Director: Jessica Hobbs Assistant Director: John Maynard Assistant Director: Malcolm Robertson Assistant Director: Corrie Soeterboek Camera Operator: Allen Guilford Casting: Diana Rowan Co-Producer: John Maynard Costume Design: Glenys Jackson Funded By: New Zealand Film Commission Funded By: New Zealand Film Commission Makeup Artist: Marjory Hamlin Makeup Artist: Elle Stephenson Production Design: Grant Major Production Manager: Owen Hughes Production Manager: Lisa Kissin Production Manager: Janes McIver Production Sound Mixer: Graham Morris Script Supervisor: Lynn-Maree Danzey Sound Designer: John Dennison Sound Designer: Tony Vaccher;

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New Zealand Film Commission