Monday, March 30, 2015

Venice International Literary Festival - Incroci di Civiltà 2015

James Ivory
(Venice, Italy) James Ivory was the inaugural guest at Crossroads of Civilization, Venice's International Literary Festival, which kicked off on March 25, 2015 at the Goldoni Theater. Ivory was a unique choice since he is, of course, a film director, responsible for such stellar films as A Room with a View, Howards End, and The Remains of the Day which he created with his long-time partner, the producer Ismail Merchant and the Booker Prize-winning author, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Just those three Merchant-Ivory films were nominated for 25 Academy Awards, and won six.

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
The evening opened with a half-hour documentary called Venice: Theme and Variations that Ivory wrote, photographed, produced and directed in the winter of 1952-53 for his masters thesis at USC film school with money his father gave him. He had no crew; he was just one person with a camera shooting wherever he could in Venice, and didn't include Titian or Veronese because the paintings were "too big." The film was shot with 16mm silent speed. His professor congratulated him on making "the first silent film since 1929."

Francesca Bortolotto Possati, Michele Bugliesi, James Ivory
Ca' Foscari, the University in Venice, is the organizer of Incroci di Civiltà, along with the Comune. James Ivory was the recipient of this year's Bauer-Ca' Foscari award, presented by Francesca Bortolotto Possati, President and CEO of the Bauers hotel group, and Michele Bugliesi, the Rector of Ca' Foscari.

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.

COUNTRIES

Armenia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Colombia, Korea, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Jamaica, Great Britain, Iran, Italy, Kenya, Holland, Poland, Portugal, Russia, United States, and Taiwan.

WRITERS

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,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. James Ivory was the inaugural guest at Crossroads of Civilization, Venice's International Literary Festival, which kicked off on March 25, 2015 at the Goldoni Theater.

    ReplyDelete

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