Jonathan Demme, 'Philadelphia' Director, Dead At 73
Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director of Philadelphia and The Silence of the Lambs died early Wednesday from esophageal cancer. He was 73.
"Sadly, I can confirm that Jonathan passed away early this morning in his Manhattan apartment, surrounded by his wife, Joanne Howard, and three children," Demme's representative said in a statement.
His 1993's project, Philadelphia, was equally ubiquitous and even more culturally significant: The film, starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, raised awareness of gay rights and the AIDS epidemic.
"Jonathan taught us how big a heart a person can have, and how it will guide how we live and what we do for a living," Tom Hanks, who starred in Philadelphia, said in a statement. "He was the grandest of men."
The Rossing Stone remembered today that the filmmaker was inspired to create a film about AIDS after his friend Juan Botas became sick with the disease. "We looked for a story for a long time, and we decided it would be pointless to make a film for people with AIDS," he said. "Or for their loved ones. They don't need no movie about AIDS. They live the truth. We wanted to reach people who don't know people with AIDS, who look down on people with AIDS."
"Sad that Jonathan Demme has passed. Philadelphia absolutely humanised people living with AIDS. Talented, humane man. RIP," tweeted today Matthew Todd from London, journalist, author of the BOYS' LGBT Book of the year 2017.
In an interview promoting Philadelphia, Demme disclosed to Rolling Stone some sage filmmaking advice he received from Roger Corman: "Jonathan, never forget what the primary organ is for the moviegoer. It's the eye. You must keep the eye interested." It's a lesson he never forgot.