Watching a Merchant-Ivory film is like having a weighty work of literature transformed into something more digestible, and Ivory gave the credit for that to Ruth. According to Wikipedia, "Of this collaboration, Merchant once commented: 'It is a strange marriage we have at Merchant Ivory... I am an Indian Muslim, Ruth is a German Jew, and Jim is a Protestant American. Someone once described us as a three-headed god. Maybe they should have called us a three-headed monster!'"
James Ivory has such vibrant energy that I was stunned to discover he will be 87-years-old on June 7th. He is also a screenwriter -- first, he would first write the screenplay and then give it to Ruth, who was a novelist as well as a screenwriter. Ivory said he never read the classics he should have read when he was a teenager, and that he had to read Howards End by E.M. Forster three times because he "didn't get it." Ruth pressured him to make the film, insisting, "Let's climb that mountain."
|The Piazzetta, Venice, photographed by James Ivory in 1952|
|Francesca Bortolotto Possati, Michele Bugliesi, James Ivory|
Ivory said he always had wanted to make a feature in Venice. He had the idea to set the Aspern Papers by Henry James not in the 1880s but the 1950s, and to use the papers of Ezra Pound. He had already completed his first draft and sent it to Ruth when he fell down the stairs and broke both his legs. Then Ruth became ill. Unfortunately, the film never happened, but that is one movie I would have loved to see.
Someone from the audience asked the renowned director James Ivory how the renowned actor Anthony Hopkins was to work with -- Ivory had worked with him on Howards End, The Remains of the Day, Surviving Picasso and The City of Your Final Destination. Ivory said that Hopkins was very easy to work with, very pleasant and professional. Hopkins thought he had never gotten Picasso's accent right in Surviving Picasso (Picasso did not speak English), but Ivory had no problem with it. Then someone asked Ivory who was the most difficult actor he had ever worked with, and he said, "Raquel Welch. She fired me!"
Incroci di Civiltà 2015 presented 29 authors from 21 different countries, making Venice the literary Crossroads of Civilization from March 25 to 28. Inviting international writers to share their singular perspectives of the world adds more zesty ingredients to the rich stew that is Venice.
Armenia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Colombia, Korea, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Jamaica, Great Britain, Iran, Italy, Kenya, Holland, Poland, Portugal, Russia, United States, and Taiwan.
Sergio Álvarez from Columbia
Mathieu Amalric from France
Ana Luísa Amaral from Portugal
Li Ang from Taiwan
Sascha Arango from Germany
Antonia Arslan from Italy/Armenia
Jerry Brotton from Great Britain
Roberto Costantini from Italy
Francesco Cataluccio from Italy
Patrick Deville from France
David Foenkinos from France
Stefan Hertmans from Belgium
James Ivory from the United States
Billy Kahora from Kenya
Hanif Kureishi from Great Britain
Lucio Mariani from Italy
Shara McCallum from Jamaica
Kim Min-jeong from Korea
Mahsa Mohebali from Iran
Mark Mustian from US/Armenia
Vladislav Otrošenko from Russia
Víctor Rodríguez Núñez from Cuba
Tatiana Salem Levy from Brazil
Morten Søndergaard from Denmark
Agata Tuszyńska from Poland
Ludmila Ulitskaya from Russia
Tommy Wieringa from Holland
Wu Ming 1 from Italy
Xu Zechen from China
Click to go to Incroci di Civiltà 2015
Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog