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More reasons to love Jonathan Demme

The director once again proves his great interview skills in Aruba.

My professional crush on Jonathan Demme just keeps growing. Not only are his films brilliant, but the guy gives great interviews.

I first chatted with Demme two years ago for Rachel Getting Married, and despite the fact that we only did a phone interview I felt so connected to him and energised by his approach to filmmaking that I thought about quitting journalism and begging him for a job instead.

Here at the Aruba International Film Festival this weekend, he was amazingly gracious, passionate and yet seemingly egoless when he gave a public chat about his work. He talked about Haitian politics (following a screening of The Agronomist), working with Roger Corman and how he got Bruce Springsteen on board to write that amazing song for Philadelphia.

He’s a great storyteller — and seeing him speak reminds me a bit of seeing Martin Scorsese talk about film, but just from a different perspective.

Here in Aruba, Demme brought his son along and they’d been watching films all day and planned to watch more all night (keep in mind that’s instead of hitting Aruba’s famous beaches like the rest of us layabouts).

He had huge praise for Sarita Siegel’s documentary Fire Burn Babylon, about Rastafarians who had to move from Montserrat to London. And Demme, who once aspired to be a veterinarian, also recommended another film in Aurba’s new Caribbean Spotlight Series — Juan Agustin Marquez’s 100,000, about Puerto Rico’s problems with abandoned dogs.

He seems to get inspiration from all over the place. “I love the stuff you see on YouTube, made by 12-year-olds who just have an idea and just shot it. It’s an amazing place where filmmaking can exist in a revenue-less void.”

He thanked the audience for coming (that never happens), and praised “the infant film festival here in Aruba. I think it’s a great idea to have a film festival here and to have a film festival anywhere! All these wonderful ideas come to Aruba, I’m very excited to be here.”

Asked about one highlight of his career, he didn’t talk about Silence of the Lambs or hanging out with Neil Young, and instead said it was sitting on a stool in Aruba talking about it.

What a guy.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Jonathan Demme is a visionary filmmaker that knows how to bring real human emotion out of his audience ...Sarita Siegel captures real human emotion through her documentary filmmaking.

    Fire Burn Babylon ( http://exhibition.thefreestylelife.com/fire-burn-babylon.html ) is an unbelievable film that goes beyond storytelling as it is about people and reinventing themselves. Demme knows how to connect with an audience, which Sarita Siegal also exemplifies in her filmmaking.

    Missed Aruba, but caught the film at The FreeStyle Life Film Exhibition. Now want to check out the Rastafarians perform live.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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