The cinematic work of Jonathan Demme (1944, USA) dwells in different areas. On the one hand, Hollywood, with its frantic search for success. On the other hand, the less “central” locations, where he gathers material for independent productions, which he manages in his headquarters in New York – Clinica Estetico. His work includes fiction and documentary, but also works for television, video clips and promotional movies for political organizations. 

Demme’s taste for cinema drove him, while still young, to write reviews for the newspaper at his University, where he studied Veterinary Medicine, and a producer, who was a friend of his father’s, gave him his first job in the film industry. He began as a publicist; he wrote scripts and produced movies. He worked with Roger Corman, director and producer linked to the so-called exploitation films. 

In 1974, he directed his first film, Caged Heat. Six years and a few features later, Melvin and Howard (1980) would, finally, give him recognition. The New York Film Critics Circle named it the Best Film of the Year.

His interest in music (Demme also wrote music reviews) drove him to create his unexpected success (with the audience and the critics): Stop Making Sense (1984), a filmed concert by Talking Heads. Until today, it is one of the main references in terms of film-concerts, due to how innovative it was: instead of focusing on everything around the concert, Demme focused on the actual concert, which became a common trait among his other films of the genre. His musical inclination remained: Demme directed videos for artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young. With the latter, he directed the documentaries Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006) and Neil Young Trunk Show (2009) and the latest Neil Young Journeys (2011).

In 1991, The Silence of the Lambs would earn him his first (and only) Oscar for Best Picture – accompanied by the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role, for Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, respectively.  Philadelphia (1993) followed, one of the first fictional works about the AIDS drama, and some time later Beloved (1998). His film The Truth About Charlie (2002), a remake of Stanley Donen’s Charade, evokes a certain French cinema tradition, just like Handle With Care (Citizen’s Band, 1977) and Melvin and Howard had.

In the last years, he has mostly devoted himself to television and documentaries. In addition to that, he has directed the fictional works Rachel Getting Married (2008), a drama starring Anne Hathaway and Debra Winger, and an adaptation of Henry Ibsen, A Master Builder (2013).

His new film, Ricki and Flash (2015) stars Meryl Streep and premiered recently in Portugal. Demme returned to film-concerts as well. This time, the protagonist is Justin Timberlake and the background is the last show on his tour.

With over 50 titles (directed or produced), Jonathan Demme is one of the essential names of American cinema in the last decades.