Winning an Academy Award has its advantages.
One of those enjoyed by James Ivory, who won a 2018 Oscar for best screenplay for “Call Me By Your Name,” is choosing what films will be shown when he’s asked to appear at talks and screenings.
When asked what film he wanted audiences to see when he participates in a special screening Tuesday at the Ross Ragland Theater, Ivory chose the seldom seen, “The City of Your Final Destination.”
“These days I like to show films that people don’t know. I want people to see them and know about them,” Ivory said of selecting “City,” which was released in 2009 and is based on the novel by Peter Cameron. Although it stars Anthony Hopkins and Laura Linney along with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Omar Metwally, Hiroyuki Sanada and Norma Alendary, it received generally poor reviews and was shown on a limited basis.
“It’s been rarely seen,” Ivory admits, noting he deliberately wants to have audiences view a lesser-known film. He said movie viewers typically identify him with such period pieces as “Room With a View” or “Howard’s End,” which both earned him Academy Award nominations for best director. “I’m tired of that. I want people to know about other films,” he said during a telephone interview from his New York home.
Ivory noted he and long-time partner and collaborator, Ismail Merchant, made films in locales around the world on diverse topics. “We did so many contemporary films. I try to pick a contemporary film, not from England but from somewhere else,” he said. “City,” mostly takes place in Uruguay.
His Tuesday appearance at the Ragland, which includes a 5 p.m. reception and a question-answer session after the film, is being sponsored by Klamath Film, the group that sponsored last year’s showing of “Call Me By Your Name.” The event drew about 200 viewers, including several people from the Rogue Valley.
“The audience was very sharp and asked a lot of fine questions,” Ivory said of the Q and A session after last year’s showing. “I was excited to be there, to be in that theater in Klamath Falls, and see everybody enjoy the film.”
It’s the first of two Klamath Basin visits this year for Ivory, who will make his annual summer visit to the Lake of the Woods, where his family has long owned a cabin, beginning Sunday. He will return to Klamath Falls in October for the dedication of Klamath Union High School’s renovated performance arts building, which will be named the James Ivory Arts Center. Ceremonies are planned from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 with the dedication and reception at 5:30. A question-answer session will follow from 6 to 7 p.m.
In recent months, Ivory has been focused on a documentary based on his 1960 travels in Afghanistan. While in Delhi working on another film, his producers wanted him to work on a second project. To escape India’s blisteringly hot temperatures, he went to Afghanistan.
“Strangely, I felt enough at home there because it reminded me of the American West,” he said in an interview last year. “I knew nothing about Afghanistan, nothing at all.”
Ivory, who shot about 10,000 feet of film, has been working with others in Paris “shaping it into something very interesting ... it’s a vanished world,” he said, noting it was filmed at a time when Afghanistan still had a king and before it was the scene of conflict involving the Taliban and wars with Russia and, later, the United States. “I liked it at the time,” he said of the footage. “From time to time I’d get it out and look at it.” He previously said the finished product will focus on people living along the Kabul River but added, “I think it will turn into something else, something more about me and my personal history.”
Ivory’s personal history has strong Klamath Falls and Southern Oregon ties, and he hopes Tuesday’s screening will build on that relationship.
“If somebody wins an Academy Award and will be in town, people will go to see him. They want to see the person who won the award. When I was in high school,” Ivory laughed, “if somebody who had won an Academy Award was coming back to town, I would have definitely gone out of my way to see or meet him.”