Jane Campion, the Australian director of Sweetie and The Piano, made an unprecedented debut at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival, winning the short film Palme d’Or for Peel, which she made while still a student at the Australian Film and TV School. Set on a hot summer’s day, Peel finds a recalcitrant, freckled, red-headed family of three out for a Sunday drive in the country. Their outing results in an intrigue of power struggles and emotional belligerence–all thanks to an orange peel.
Also known as An Exercise in Discipline: Peel, this bold film finds Campion (and cinematographer Sally Bongers) experimenting with framing and editing while leaving the mise-en-scene relatively naturalistic. By sidestepping establishing shots and playing with continuity, she doesn’t make a jumbled mess. Instead, we’re supposed to feel claustrophobic and on edge. This is paired with a mischievous sense of comic irony, keen emotional insight, and uniquely dry humor. You can just see Godard nodding in approval, especially in the final minutes. Given Campion’s track record of dealing with feminist themes in unusual ways, we’d love to hear what you think Peel says about familial dynamics.