Airdate | Friday, June 29, 2012
Hometown | Baldwin, Nassau County, NY
Why You (Should) Know Him
- Surely you’re familiar with the brilliant, cannibalistic villain Hannibal Lecter portrayed by Sir Anthony Hopkins. Well, Demme directed Silence of the Lambs…and won the Academy Award for best director for the film.
- He also directed 1993’s Philadelphia, one of the first Hollywood pictures to address issues of HIV/AIDS, homosexuality and homophobia.
- Demme is also making a mark as a documentarian and concert movie-maker, as evidenced by his trilogy of Neil Young documentary concert films and the Talking Heads concert movie, Stop Making Sense.
Why He’s Buzzing | The Oscar-winning filmmaker is out with not one, but two projects—a post-Hurricane Katrina documentary, I’m Carolyn Parker, and his third feature-length documentary on folk-rocker Neil Young, Neil Young Journeys. You can watch the 2007 conversation with Demme below, where he describes why he decided to make a documentary about post-Katrina New Orleans.
- He’s a protégé of big-time film producer Roger Corman.
- Demme’s film The Silence of the Lambs was the third film to win Oscars in the five biggest categories: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was also the first horror film to be awarded Best Picture, after being only the second to be nominated for that category. 1973’s The Exorcist was the first.
- He directed indie film Rachel Getting Married—and even cast some of his friends to counter the “real” actors Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt. The film was shot in a naturalistic style, like a documentary.
- According to his IMDB profile, his trademarks include: frequently casting Charles Napier, Chris Isaak, Buzz Kilman, Tracey Walter and Paul Lazar; working with Taj Fujimoto as his director of photography; using New Order songs in movie soundtracks.
- On June 3, 1990, he was awarded an honorary degree by Wesleyan University.
- Entertainment Weekly voted him the 45th greatest director of all time.
Selection of projects and awards
1974 Caged Heat
1978 Columbo (episode “Murder Under Glass”)
1979 Last Embrace
1984 Stop Making Sense (documentary)
1986 Something Wild
1987 Swimming to Cambodia
1988 Haiti Dreams of Democracy (TV documentary)
1988 Married to the Mob
1991 Silence of the Lambs (won Academy Award for best picture and best director; nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA Award, Saturn Award; won Berlinale Silver Bear for best director)
1992 Cousin Bobby (documentary)
1993 Philadelphia (nominated for Berlinale Golden Bear Award)
1998 Storefront Hitchcock (documentary)
2001 Bruce Springstreen: The Complete Video Anthology 1978-2000 (video-documentary)
2004 The Manchurian Candidate
2006 Neil Young: Heart of Gold
2007 Right to Return: New Home Movies from the Lower 9th Ward (PBS TV mini-series)
2008 Rachel Getting Married
2009 Neil Young Trunk Show (documentary)
2011 Neil Young Journeys (documentary)
2011 I’m Carolyn Parker (documentary)
Demme’s May 25, 2007 conversation with Tavis
On his decision to film a documentary on post-Katrina New Orleans, featuring the namesake of his latest documentary, Carolyn Parker.