Jonathan Demme Dies, Montclair Film Festival Mourns

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Oscar-winning USA film director Jonathan Demme, who terrified audiences and also made them laugh, died Wednesday in NY at 73. According to multiple reports, Mr. Demme suffered complications related to esophageal cancer.

The celebrated director broke into the film industry as a writer and director for Roger Corman, a well-known exploitation movie producer and director, in the early 1970s. He received widest acclaim for his adaptation of Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs, which introduced cinematic audiences to Anthony Hopkins's chilling and charismatic turn as Hannibal Lecter and went on to become the third film to win an Oscar in each of the top five categories (picture, actor, actress, director, and adapted screenplay). Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme has died, at the age of 73.

Demme's other notable films include the 2008 independent drama Rachel Getting Married, The Manchurian Candidate (2004), 1988 comedy Married to the Mob and the 1998 adaption of Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved.

His most recent project was a Justin Timberlake concert film, Justin Timberlake And The Tennessee Kids, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Hanks yesterday called him "the grandest of men".

Demme directed a total of 20 feature films and 12 documentaries, not to mention innovative concert movie "Stop Making Sense" and music videos, chalking up a raft of writing and production credits.

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U.S. director Jonathan Demme poses for photographers during a photocall at the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, September 3, 2008. "A big loss to the caring world".

In 1998, Demme worked with Robyn Hitchcock on the unusual concert film Storefront Hitchcock where the artist performed a set of songs in an abandoned store window in NY.

"I've come to believe, and I kind of felt this when we did 'Stop Making Sense, ' that shooting live music is kind of like the purest form of filmmaking", Demme told The Associated Press.

Demme most recently directed an episode of the Fox police drama Shots Fired, scheduled to air Wednesday night, just hours after his death.

I am heartbroken to lose a friend, a mentor, a guy so singular and dynamic you'd have to design a hurricane to contain him. There will be private family funeral. "I love you JD xT". He was also dedicated to the documentary craft during his entire career, working with iconic Canadian singer Neil Young on multiple films: Heart of Gold (2006), Neil Young Trunk Show (2010) and Journeys (2011).

Horror author Stephen King also paid tribute to the director, tweeting: "Deeply sad to hear my friend, neighbour and colleague Jonathan Demme has passed on".