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Jacob Burns Film Center Pays Tribute To Nyack's Jonathan Demme, 73

Jonathan Demme (c) with Meryl Streep (l) and Jodie Foster (r).
Jonathan Demme (c) with Meryl Streep (l) and Jodie Foster (r). Photo Credit: Lynda Shenkman Curtis

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- Jonathan Demme, a Nyack resident who died Wednesday morning at 73 , didn't just like to make movies-  he loved to screen and talk about them as well.

The Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville was Demme's favorite place to talk about his craft. Demme, who won an Oscar for Best Director for "The Silence Of The Lambs," joined the Board of Directors in 2006 and hosted series like "Saddle Up Saturdays" and "Jonathan Demme's Rarely Seen Cinema." A poster of his seminal concert film "Stop Making Sense" is on display.

Brian Ackerman, founding director of programming at the Burns, hailed Demme as being one of the great directors of our time, calling him innovative, daring, inventive and honest. But he said the staff at the Jacob Burns was mourning Demme the person.

"What was truly extraordinary, what all of us experienced as unique and irreplaceable, was Jonathan’s singular energy and spirit, his effervescence and warmth, a radiance that swept up everyone in his path and made us all feel—whether we knew him a little or a lot, whether on the staff or in the audience—like we were all on the same magical journey," Ackerman said.

Ackerman said Demme believed in the gift of inclusion, letting everyone feel like they belonged.

"He was larger than life, while insisting all the while, in every word and gesture, that we were made of the same stuff," Ackerman said."He was a teacher, a friend, a champion, a critic, and a supporter all with the infectious love that was pure Jonathan. If there was one thing that he believed in, it was the transcendent power of sharing. And whether you were in the audience, or on the staff, or on the board, he was always the same Jonathan."

Ackerman said everyone who met him said they had never met anyone like him.

"We, at the Burns and everywhere, will miss him," Ackerman said.

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