Speaking in Aruba, Demme says he has finished New Orleans documentary I’m Carolyn Parker.

Jonathan Demme [pictured] says he is still at work on a feature screenplay based on Dave Eggers’ 2009 acclaimed non-fiction book Zeitoun.

“It’s a great, great, great, great book,” said Demme, speaking on Saturday [12] at the second Aruba International Film Festival, where he was a guest and also presented his documentary The Agronomist.

Demme said the true story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun has “heroic” elements but also tumbles into the dark side of homeland security. The Syrian-born New Orleans resident was a hero to his neighbours during Katrina but was then investigated as a terrorism suspect.

He has been working on the script for the planned animated feature – including visualisations and storyboards – in collaboration with illustrator Charlie Griak from Minneapolis.

Demme said he has been trying to secure development financing that hasn’t come to fruition yet, but he had “gotten back into writing the script for the past few weeks, and I hope to have the script finished by the end of summer.”

The filmmaker also noted that he just finished production on his new documentary I’m Carolyn Parker. He started shooting the film in 2006 about people in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans who were impacted by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

Demme shot five or six families for the project, as they tried to rehouse themselves. And he said Parker “is one particularly amazing woman.” He had a very small crew working on the film, usually operating the camera himself.

PBS’s POV strand came on board for some finishing money.

Demme said that after making Rachel Getting Married he’s no longer against working in fictional filmmaking. He had been working on a string of documentaries after being famed for films such as TheSilence Of The Lambs and the big-budget remake of The Manchurian Candidate. “I’m very cyclical,” he said. “I had a blast making [Rachel] and I’m open to it again.”

He noted he had recently optioned a book that would require a “Hollywood-style movie” but he said “I want to make it as inexpensively as we can. I’m not comfortable spending a fortune on a movie anymore.”