"“Writing has always been central to all our films.
The best films give us something to feel and hopefully it’s a feeling we may never have felt before..."
-- James Ivory
Filmmaker James Ivory
7 p.m. Friday, February 4, 2022
In an online conversation with film producer Stephen Soucy
James Ivory, a towering figure of “arthouse” filmmaking during the past 50 years, is the co-founder of Merchant Ivory Productions.
Together with his partner, producer Ismail Merchant, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Ivory received worldwide acclaim for nuanced adaptations of literary classics, including "A Room with a View," (1986), "Howard's End" (1992), and "The Remains of the Day" (1993).
At age 89, he became the oldest-ever Oscar winner for his screenplay adaptation of "Call Me By Your Name (2017). He presents his new memoir, Solid Ivory (2021), an irreverent account of his remarkable life and career.
The book is available at The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza.
Stephen Soucy, UAlbany alumnus, filmmaker, and theatrical producer, wrote and directed the soon-to-be-released documentary film, "Merchant Ivory" (2022). Other current projects include the Broadway-bound "Romy and Michele: The Musical," based on the hit 1997 film starring Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino, and a short film, "The Dress", based on a short story by David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl.
Peter Cameron is the author of Andorra (FSG, 1997), The City of Your Final Destination (FSG, 2002), and Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You (FSG, 2007). His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Grand Street, and The Paris Review.
James Ivory was born in Berkeley, California and educated at the University of Oregon, where he majored in Architecture and Fine Arts. His first film, which he wrote, photographed and produced, was "Venice: Theme and Variations," a half-hour documentary made as a thesis film for a degree in cinema from the University of Southern California. Ivory's evocation of the city was named by The New York Times in 1957 as one of the ten best non-theatrical films of the year.
Ivory met producer Ismail Merchant at a screening of Ivory's documentary "The Sword and the Flute" in New York City in 1959. In May 1961, Merchant and Ivory formed the film production company Merchant Ivory Productions. Merchant and Ivory were long-term life partners.
Merchant Ivory films earned 31 Academy Award nominations and six wins. Their professional and romantic partnership lasted 44 years, from 1961 until Merchant's death in 2005.
Other notable Merchant Ivory films include "Howards End" in 1992, based on the E.M. Forster novel and nominated for nine Academy awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, winning three.
This was followed by "The Remains of the Day," "Jefferson in Paris." and "Surviving Picasso," starring Anthony Hopkins as Picasso.
James Ivory during the filming of "Savages," early 1970s.