Jonathan Demme died at the age of 73 from esophageal cancer. The Boston Globe called him a populist of the best sort.
From Rolling Stone: “In 1987, Demme was nominated for a Best Music Video, Long Form Grammy for his work on “Sun City: Artists Against Apartheid.” Van Zandt co-founded the Artists United Against Apartheid with Arthur Baker and they produced the anti-apartheid song ‘Sun City‘ and the album of the same name.
“‘[Demme’s] contribution to ‘Sun City’ was pivotal in getting Nelson Mandela released and ending the South African apartheid,’ Van Zandt added. ‘He was a saint…'”
Also: “[Bruce] Springsteen won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Streets of Philadelphia,” which was featured in the Demme-directed film Philadelphia that stars Tom Hanks. Demme also directed the music video for the song.”
Of Demme’s most famous documentary, Wired wrote: “Stop Making Sense Is Still the Concert Film All Others Try to Be.” I’m very partial to that vintage of Talking Heads’ music, since I saw the band at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on that tour, one of my two favorite concert experiences ever.
I was a big fan of Demme’s breakout film, Melvin and Howard (1980), and of Swimming to Cambodia (1987 Spaulding Gray documentary), but I’ve never seen his Academy Award-winning The Silence of the Lambs, though it was on HBO when I was visiting my parents at one point.
WATCH AND LISTEN to these Jonathan Demme works:
Sun City – Artists United Against Apartheid
The Demme video here and here
The pop-up video here
Just the music here
Streets of Philadelphia – Bruce Springsteen
Jonathan Demme video here and here
Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense
Trailer of Demme film here and here
In The Still Of The Night – the Neville Brothers
Red Hot and Blue (TV Movie) segment directed by Demme here