Demme was a member of the DGA since 1976 and winner of the its award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement for 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs.
The statement from DGA President Paris Barclay notes that Demme served as a member of the guild’s President’s Committee on Film Preservation and received the DGA Honor in 2004.
Here is the statement in full:
“Losing iconic director Jonathan Demme – a consummate craftsman who mastered all that he endeavored – is devastating for us. In his seminal work The Silence of the Lambs, for which he won the DGA and Academy Awards, Jonathan set the template for modern psychological thrillers, drawing masterful performances from Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. He pushed boundaries again with Philadelphia, emotionally bringing to public consciousness the impact of AIDS in a searing, yet humanistic way. But Jonathan also had a lighter, comedic side which shined through in hits like Married to the Mob, and his global quest for truth and love of music were reflected in his renowned documentaries and concert films like the groundbreaking Stop Making Sense. Few shared that kind of diversity – always at the top of his game in any genre.
“But it didn’t end on the screen. His love of craft was also reflected in his passion for the Guild. When he received the DGA Honor in 2004, he summed up his pride in being a member, stating: ‘For me, the DGA is very much about an endless fight for creative integrity in movies; it’s for safety and integrity in the workplace; it’s for a bigger share of the pie.’
“Jonathan was a constant presence at the DGA, mentoring, leading Q&As and co-hosting our annual New York dinner for feature film directors. At the most recent gathering last fall, he was the true life of the party, imbuing the evening with his wit and charm, even commandeering the mike at one point for an impassioned plea for the creative rights of directors. Watching his infectious enthusiasm while he huddled with Michael Apted, Steven Soderbergh, Mira Nair, Tom McCarthy and so many of his peers – is a memory we will always treasure.”