Jonathan Demme returns to New York Film Festival
(CBS) Thirty-five years ago, before there were cell phones, before instant messaging, before Twitter and Facebook, there was Citzen's Band radio. Imagine, your messages being broadcast over a two-way radio channel that anyone within the short-distance frequency area could pick up on and listen to for their own amusement.
That's the basis for the aptly named film "Citzen's Band," directed by Jonathan Demme, which played along with "Melvin and Howard" as part of a double feature at the The Film Society at Lincoln Center's "50 Years of the New York Film Festival" series at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center on Wednesday, along with another Demme classic, "Melvin and Howard." Actor Paul Le Mat, who starred in both films, also attended the screenings.
Before his films ever made it to the festival, Demme came to see others directors' movies at the New York Film Festival for years and years. But for him, the experience of finally having "Citizen's Band" at the festival in 1977 could only be described as "euphoric," he told CBSNews.com. "I was an ardent film fest attendee. I came every year to almost year to almost every movie. Now, years later, 10 years later, having gone from film buff to film maker, to actually have my own films in the festival was just an indescribably euphoric experience for me," he said.
And just a few years later in 1988, "Melvin and Howard" opened the festival, marking another milestone in Demme's burgeoning career.
"'Melvin and Howard' was an opening night movie, a high honor," he said. "It's a high honor to get into any film festival, but New York has a special crackle to it."
Demme won the Oscar in 1992 for directing "Silence of the Lambs," a film which has a stark contrast in style to the films which were shown on Wednesday night. Demme explained that his directorial style evolved from his earlier movies to his later films, which include "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Rachel Getting Married" in that he, in a way, left the "classic Hollywood style" behind and adopted a more "dogma" style of filmmaking.
"These two films ["Melvin and Howard" and "Citizen's Band"] are examples of when I was collaboration with [Assistant Director] Tak Fujimoto we were pursuing a classic Hollywood style of filmmaking. And my style has changed since then. We reached a point where we felt we had achieved the classic Hollywood style. Then I felt myself wanting cinema verite kind of feeling, a dogma even feeling. In my last fiction film, 'Rachel Getting Married,' we wanted it to feel very much like a dogma film," he said.
But, Demme added his next film could incorporate the two styles, bringing back the classic Hollywood style in a new way by combining it with his current stylistic method. "I still love the Hollywood style and I'm not finished it with it either and my next fiction film will probably be a combination of these styles."
No matter the characters of the script or the subject of the documentary, Demme explained that he chooses the projects that draw him in, the ones that spark his "enthusiasm."
"I follow my enthusiasm," he said. "After all these years all the movies I've done, this Isn't to say all the films turned out well but I have tremendous enthusiasm for the scripts I do as fictions films."
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