WATERVILLE — Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme will return to Waterville to help kick off opening night of the 16th Maine International Film Festival Friday, July 12, at the Waterville Opera House, accodring to a MIFF press release. The MIFF 2002 Midlife Achievement Honoree will introduce the premiere of “Enzo Avitabile Music Life,” a new film centering on the Neapolitan musician who’s blazing a world music trail in his collaborations with other musicians from around the Mediterranean and around the world, including Buena Vista Social Club’s Eliades Ochoa. “We are looking forward to an incredible opening night celebration, graced by the presence of one of MIFF’s most beloved guests,” says Festival Director Shannon Haines in the release.

“Enzo Avitabile Music Life” is the first in a special section of MIFF 2013 called “Demme Does Music,” designed to highlight Demme’s fantastic feel for and ability to convey the excitement of music. Although his feature films, including classics like “Silence of the Lambs,” for which he won the Best Director Oscar in 1992, “Philadelphia,” “Melvin and Howard” and “Something Wild,” invariably have a strong musical element, Festival Programmer Ken Eisen said in the release, it is Demme’s “beautiful portfolio of films directly centering on music and musicians that really shine with the excitement, power and thrill of Jonathan’s wonderful ability to wed film with music.”

“Everyone’s favorite concert movie of all time is the Talking Heads wonder “Stop Making Sense,” returning to MIFF in a rare 35mm print,” says Eisen, in the release, “We’re thrilled to be screening several other Demme music rarities, including Robin Hitchcock in “Storefront Hitchcock,” “The Neil Young Trunk Show,” and a one-of-a-kind screening of a virtually unseen Kenny Chesney film recently made by Jonathan.”

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