We sat down with director James Ivory to talk about growing up on the west coast, arts, films, Ismail Merchant, Ruth Prawar Jhabvala, Satyajit Ray and India. Ivory also shares some of his favorite films from his childhood days.
Ivory was born in Berkeley, grew up Oregon and every year they visited San Francisco Bay area to spend time with their extended family. He studied architecture and fine arts at the University or Oregon and filmmaking at University of Southern California (USC). At USC he made a short film called Venice: Themes of Variations. His second short film The Sword and the Flute was inspired by Indian miniature paintings that he first saw in an art gallery in San Francisco. It was this film that led to his interest and connection in India and also his first meeting with Ismail Merchant.
In 1961 Ivory and Merchant formed the Merchant Ivory Productions. Around this time they also started their collaboration with writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. The trio made award-winning films like Shakespeare Wallah, Heat and Dust, A Room With A View, Howard’s End, The Remains of the Day and others.
This interview was recorded at the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival, where his film Maurice was screened.
This interview was aired on TV in the US.