demme_zeitoun

This summer Dave Eggers published his non-fiction book Zeitoun, an account of a New Orleans family experiencing Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Abdulrahman Zeitoun stayed in the city after the floods, using his canoe to get about the city in order to help people and it is his testimony, gathered via interviews, that herein provides Eggers material and, to a large extent, voice. It was a stealth publication, in the sense that nobody had much heard of it until shortly before it hit shelves, but Eggers commands a loyal fan base, for his whole McSweeney’s line as much as for himself, so it was eagerly received.

One fan who leapt right into it was Jonathan Demme, who had been a follower of Eggers work since his son introduced him to What is the What. Demme had himself directed a series of films on post-Katrina New Orleans called Right to Return: New Home Movies From the Lower 9th Ward. If you ask me, he’s absolutely the only director who would see a film in this book and then go on to realise it appropriately.

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The first director attached to Marley, a documentary about the reggae icon Bob, was none other than Marty Scorsese. Back in May, however, reports surfaced that he was leaving the film due to a schedule clash and, hurrah for me, Jonathan Demme came aboard. Aside from the (brilliant) digression that was Rachel Getting Married, Demme has been focusing very much on documentaries recently, and has an unparalleled track record in concert and music films. He’s just about the perfect director for this job.

Bad news then, that The New York Post’s Page Six are today reporting Demme is off the project. What’s more, they claim that he was already into production and it was the screening of some rough cut that lead to him leaving.

Demme’s exit occurred after the movie’s producer, Bill Clinton pal Steve Bing, saw the director’s first round of editing and was less than impressed.

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drag me to hell sxsw

South By Southwest has announced that Sam Raimi will premiere a work-in-progress print of Drag Me To Hell, and Jonathan Demme will premiere his new Neil Young performance film, Neil Young Trunk Show, at the upcoming 2009 film festival. Read the full press release after the jump.

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Anne HathawayAnne Hathaway is set to play 10-year rehab patient in Jonathan Demme’s (The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia) next film Dancing with Sheba. The Devil Wears Prada star told Black Film:

“It’s a fun premise for a movie actually. Not fun, but it’s a dark comedy. I play an ex-model who’s been in and out of rehab for 10 years and has just come out of a 8 months stay so she’s really serious about it this time, and she arrives home on the weekend of her sister’s wedding.”

Hathaway also revealed that Debra Winger has been cast in the role of her mother. This will be Demme’s first narrative feature film since the badly executed 2004 Manchurian Candidate remake. Sounds interesting. I’m sure Hathaway is capable, and Demme has also made some incredible films. But many people will agree that Demme hasn’t made a good film since 1993 (Philadelphia). Shooting begins this fall.

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