Taking home the gold for Netflix’s The Lost Daughter, for which she is also Oscar-nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, she wrote the script from a book by Elena Ferrante and shot the majority of the film on the Greek island of Spetses during Covid quarantine.
The story follows Leda (Olivia Colman), a middle-aged woman whose past comes back to haunt her when she meets a young mother (Dakota Johnson) on vacation.
She was filled with admiration for the woman who blazed a trail for female directors. Campion was the second female director to ever be Oscar-nominated, for The Piano —, a film Gyllenhaal said had inspired her from a very young age.
“It changed my life,” she said. “There weren’t a lot of people who came before and women who did this.”
Gyllenhaal added: “I want to thank my loving producers who told me, ‘You’re a director, and you have to do it now,’” referring to The Lost Daughter producers, Pie Films’ Talia Kleinhendler and Osnat Handelsman Keren.
“I know that my film is in an unusual language, and I appreciate the effort you all took to learn it,” she told the audience.
“I’m not in the DGA because this is my first film, but I want to be,” Gyllenhaal said with a laugh, adding that she planned to ask Steven Spielberg to write one of the required letters of recommendation and her dad the other. Spielberg smiled enthusiastically from the audience at this idea.
Women counted for four out of six nominees in the first-time feature directing category. Gyllenhaal’s fellow nominees were Tatiana Huezo for Prayers for the Stolen, Rebecca Hall for Passing, Emma Seligman for Shiva Baby, Lin-Manuel Miranda for tick,tick… Boom! And Michael Sarnoski for Pig.