After a childhood of being addicted to movies, Jonathan Demme began his formal relationship with film, first as a self-styled critic for marginal publications in Florida, and then as a film publicist in New York, working for various distribution companies. While working as unit publicist for Roger Corman onVon Richthofen and Brown in 1970, he was turned into a screenwriter, and then a producer, and finally a director by Corman, who was at that time just entering the distribution business as the creator of New World Pictures.
Between 1971 and 1976, he wrote and produced or directed five films, making his first studio movie at Paramount in 1977 with Citizens Band. Since that time, he has come to direct a total of eighteen films, including two documentaries, one of which was Cousin Bobby (Cannes 1992 - Un Certain Regard), and two performance films.
He has produced 17 films, including seven documentaries, which include the Oscar-nominated Mandela (1996), and four films charting the struggle for democracy in Haiti. A passionate music aficionado, he devotes a strong share of his directorial energies to the soundtracks of his films and has directed dozens of video clips, many of which have featured live performances by the artists instead of the lip-synch technique.
His films have been nominated for 20 Academy Awards. The Silence of the Lambs received five Academy Awards in 1991 - for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay Adaptation. His films have won screenplay Oscars twice, Melvin and Howard (Best Original Screenplay, 1980) and The Silence of the Lambs (Best Screenplay Adaptation, 1991), and two of the Best Actor awards of the 1990s went to Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991) and Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, 1993).
He is married to painter Joanne Howard. They have three children.
Films presented at Cannes