An Angel at My Table

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An Angel at My Table
Angel at my table movie poster.jpg
Directed byJane Campion
Screenplay byLaura Jones
Based onTo the Is-Land
by Janet Frame
An Angel at My Table
by Janet Frame
The Envoy from Mirror City
by Janet Frame
Produced byJohn Maynard
Bridget Ikin
StarringKerry Fox
CinematographyStuart Dryburgh
Edited byVeronika Jenet
Music byDon McGlashan
Distributed bySharmill Films (Australia)
Artificial Eye (United Kingdom)
Release dates
  • 5 September 1990 (1990-09-05) (Venice Film Festival)
  • 20 September 1990 (1990-09-20) (Australia)
Running time
158 minutes
New Zealand
United Kingdom
Box officeNZ$569,000 (New Zealand)[1]
$1,054,638 (US and Canada)[2]

An Angel at My Table is a 1990 biographical drama film directed by Jane Campion. The film is based on Janet Frame's three autobiographies, To the Is-Land (1982), An Angel at My Table (1984), and The Envoy from Mirror City (1984).[3] The film was very well received. It won awards at the New Zealand Film and Television awards, the Toronto International Film Festival, and second prize at the Venice Film Festival.[4]


An Angel at My Table is a dramatisation of the autobiographies of New Zealand author Janet Frame. Originally produced as a television miniseries, the film, as with Frame's autobiographies, is divided into three sections, with the lead role played by three actresses who portray Frame at different stages of her life: Alexia Keogh (child), Karen Fergusson (teenager), and Kerry Fox (adult). The film follows Frame from when she grows up in a poor family, through her years in a mental institution, and into her writing years after her release.


  • Kerry Fox as Janet Frame (adult)
  • Alexia Keogh as Janet Frame (child)
  • Karen Fergusson as Janet Frame (teenager)
  • Iris Churn as Mother
  • Kevin J. Wilson as Father
  • Melina Bernecker as Myrtle
  • Glynis Angell as Isabel
  • Mark Morrison as Bruddie Frame (child)
  • Sarah Llewellyn as June Frame (child)
  • Natasha Gray as Leslie
  • Brenda Kendall as Miss Botting
  • Martyn Sanderson as Frank Sargeson


Impact and reception[edit]

An Angel at My Table was the first film from New Zealand to be screened at the Venice Film Festival, where it received multiple standing ovations and was awarded the Grand Special Jury Prize despite evoking yells of protest that it did not win The Golden Lion.[7] In addition to virtually sweeping the local New Zealand film awards, it also took home the prize for best foreign film at the Independent Spirit Awards and the International Critics' Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.[4] The film not only established Jane Campion as an emerging director and launched the career of Kerry Fox, but it also introduced a broader audience to Janet Frame's writing.

Roger Ebert gave the film 4 out of 4 stars, stating; "[The film] tells its story calmly and with great attention to human detail and, watching it, I found myself drawn in with a rare intensity".[8] The film also received praise in The Guardian where film critic Derek Malcolm called it "one of the very best films of the year".[9] The Sydney Morning Herald wrote, "Angel is a film where almost every image strikes the eye with the vividness of an inspired art composition: one where small incidents gain magical properties".[10] Variety said the film is "potentially painful and harrowing...imbued with gentle humor and great compassion, which makes every character come vividly alive".[11] In 2019, the BBC polled 368 film experts from 84 countries to name the 100 greatest films directed by women, with An Angel at My Table voted at No. 47.[12]


  1. ^ "Top Fourteeen New Zealand Movies Released in New Zealand". No. 97–98. Cinema Papers. April 1994. p. 15. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  2. ^ "An Angel at My Table (1991)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  3. ^ Hunter Cordaiy, "An Angel at My Table", Cinema Papers, November 1990, pp. 32–36.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Background - An Angel at My Table - Film". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  5. ^ "BELGIAN FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION: Grand Prix Honours List – Movie List". MUBI. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  6. ^ "1988-2013 Award Winner Archives". Chicago Film Critics Association. 1 January 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  7. ^ Campion, Jane (19 January 2008). "Jane Campion recalls her encounters with Janet Frame". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (21 June 1991). "An Angel at My Table". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  9. ^ "Quotes - An Angel at My Table - Film - NZ on Screen". Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  10. ^ "An Angel at my Table - Review - Photos - Ozmovies". Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  11. ^ "Film Review: 'An Angel at My Table'". Variety. 31 December 1989. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  12. ^ "The 100 greatest films directed by women". BBC Culture. Retrieved 17 March 2022.

External links[edit]