Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme dead at 73

Brunilde Fioravanti
Aprile 27, 2017

He is survived by his second wife, artist Joanne Howard, and their three children: Brooklyn, Ramona and Jos.

Today, our thoughts are with the family of filmmaker Jonathan Demme, who passed away at the age of 73 this week from unspecified complications with cancer.

Anne Hathaway and director Jonathan Demme at the screening for Rachel Getting Married at the Palazzo del Casino, during the 65th Venice Film Festival, Italy.

Like a lot of filmmakers who got their starts in the '70s, Demme spent some time working under the tutelage of B-movie legend Roger Corman.

But the NY native was most famous for his 1991 thriller, the Silence of the Lambs, which won Academy Awards in all top five categories, including Best Director and Best Picture. Over the last four decades, he turned in one of the most varied filmographies of any director in Hollywood, constantly reinventing himself behind each comedy, documentary, drama, and TV show. "He was pure energy; the unstoppable cheerleader for anyone creative". Demme is best known for directing The Silence of the Lambs, the 1991 horror-thriller that was a box office smash and a critical triumph. Everyone knows "The Silence of the Lambs", "Philadelphia", and "Stop Making Sense", but less widely acknowledged efforts such as "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains" demonstrated a masterful awareness of the movies as a layered artform able to convey many meanings at once. "I mean, I can't tell you how wonderful that felt". Fictional or actual, he caught so many lives and glimpses of lives and framed them for others to enjoy. Jonathan was a true keeper of souls, and now we must celebrate his. After his family moved to Miami, he attended the University of Florida where he wrote movie reviews for the school paper.

Demme directed such colourfully titled projects as Caged Heat and Crazy Mama before going on to shoot an episode of the durable TV series Columbo.

Demme's critical breakthrough was "Melvin and Howard", a 1980 film about a much-disputed encounter between gas station owner Melvin Dummar and reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. He also created three films with rocker Neil Young.

Demme was initially married to Evelyn Purcell, before divorcing.

Demme's relatives have asked those wanting to pay their respects to make donations to the filmmaker's favourite charity, Americans For Immigrant Justice, instead of flowers.

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