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Thursday, 4/27/2017

When the Talking Heads rocked Munich

Filmfest mourns Director Jonathan Demme

When the Talking Heads rocked Munich

Jonathan Demme and Ulla Rapp in Munich 2006

Hollywood great Jonathan Demme passed away yesterday, April 26, 2017 in New York City. A long friendship connected the top director (SILENCE OF THE LAMBS) with the city of Munich and FILMFEST MÜNCHEN ever since 1984, when the Talking Heads premiered his breakout concert film STOP MAKING SENSE here. The pivotal New Wave band founded by singer David Byrne and musician Brian Eno rocked the Gloria Palast theater with live perfomances in between screenings. Drummer Chris Frantz asked for a giant PA in the Gloria, and wildy dancing fans spilled out into the streets around the theater during the gigs. Six years later, Demme himself was in Munich to record the score of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS in the legendary symphonic Bavaria Musik Studios in Munich's Schornstrasse - with Oscar-winner Howard Shore as composer.

Thus began a long friendship with programmer Ulla Rapp, who founded the renowned American Indies sidebar at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN, and was to screen almost all of Demme's films in Munich: SOMETHING WILD (1987) with CineMerit 2012 recipient Melanie Griffith, SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA with comic Spaulding Gray (1987), THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991), COUSIN BOBBY (1992), doc JIMMY CARTER - MAN FROM PLAINS (2008) and his return to the concert-film format NEIL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD (2006).  

When he came to Munich with NEIL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD in 2006, he and his wife rented bicycles, bought swim suits and went biking thorugh town and swimming in the Isar. "He showed up for the Press Screening in his swim trunks, much to the astonishment of former Filmfest head Andreas Ströhl… We all loved it!", Rapp recalls. Demme brought his own private print of the film since the distrib had decided to preem the pic in Locarno, but Demme really wanted to come to Munich.

Jonathan Demme studied veterinary medicine before starting to shoot B movies in the 1970s for Roger Corman. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS became one of only three films to win Oscars in all five major categories: Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Lead Actress and Best Lead Actress. Jonathan Demme was 73 years old.