James Ivory, the Oscar-winning screenwriter and director who grew up in Klamath Falls and graduated from Klamath Union High School in 1946, likes to spend his summers near home. He said that every year, unless he’s shooting a movie in a far-off country like Argentina or Italy, he comes back to his cabin at Lake of the Woods.
“I always come to the lake,” Ivory said. “It calls you back.”
On Tuesday, he came to Klamath Falls’ Ross Ragland Theater to present a screening of his 2009 film, “The City of Your Final Destination,” an adaptation of 2002 book of the same name. The film stars Anthony Hopkins and Laura Linney.
Last year, Ivory participated in a similar screening and question-and-answer session in Klamath Falls for 2017’s “Call me by Your Name,” which he co-produced and wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for.
“I never really lost touch with the town,” Ivory said. “People know my films. I like to show people what I do.”
Magic of movies
During the question-and-answer session after the screening of “The City,” Ivory described what initially drew him into the magic of movies, right here in Klamath Falls.
“I would go to movies like mad when I was a child,” he said. “There were movie theaters all over Main Street. They’re closed now.”
Ivory said that he became fascinated with the way movies looked, and his first goal was to design film sets. This aptitude for aesthetics is clear in Ivory’s films, including “The City,” which have grandiose and intriguing sets that help build the films’ tactile and sensory worlds.
Ivory said that “The City” is a film that didn’t do very well at the box offices, but that he liked it very much. He said that he wanted people in Klamath Falls to see it, because they may not have had the opportunity to before.
“I chose this one because it’s rarely seen,” Ivory said.
He said that a lot of labor went into creating the movie, but that he didn’t have one specific reason for choosing to make it.
“You don’t always know why you do things,” he said. “I liked the idea of going to South America and making a film.”
The movie was mostly set in Uruguay, but it was filmed in Argentina because of the more prosperous film industry there. The South American set was evident, with many scenes showing lush rain forests and drizzly rain.
Back in the Northern Hemisphere, Ivory said that he spends much of his summertime at Lake of the Woods reading and talking to old friends. He cited a book about the seven sieges of Rome as one of his latest reads.
On stage at the Ross Ragland Theater, Ivory gave a nod to the setting of some of his childhood memories.
“I sat in this theater again and again all throughout high school,” he said.
Before the film screening began, an aspiring screenwriter came up to Ivory to ask if he had any advice for her. His answer was blunt.
“Just sit down and do it,” Ivory said.