Christopher Manning Directing ‘James Ivory: In Search of Love and Beauty,’ Documentary About ‘Howards End’ Filmmaker (EXCLUSIVE)

Christopher Manning will make his feature directorial debut with “James Ivory: In Search of Love and Beauty,” a biographical documentary about Oscar-winning director and screenwriter James Ivory. The film will chronicle the life and work of the filmmaker, who is still going strong at age 94, having earned acclaim and an Academy Award for adapting “Call Me By Your Name.”

But even before that film hit theaters, Ivory was known as an unparalleled director of dramas about men and women who deal with roiling emotions behind a facade of exquisite manners.  His greatest films include such classics (and yes that over-used descriptor applies) as “A Room with a View,” “Maurice,” “Howards End” and “The Remains of the Day.” He has been nominated for the director Oscar on three occasions, and has been nominated for producing three picture contenders. Many of these movies were made with the help of the late film producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. The trio operated under the shingle Merchant Ivory, producing 44 films between 1961 and 2009.

His other films include “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge,” which starred Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, “Shakespeare Wallah” and “Surviving Picasso.”

The documentary will feature such frequent Ivory collaborators Emma Thompson , Helena Bonham Carter and Hugh Grant, as well as director Wes Anderson.  The documentary will also draw from never-before-seen archival footage, film clips, vérité sequences, behind-the-scenes outtakes and sit-down interviews to form a comprehensive portrait of the filmmaker.

Manning also writes the script and produces with John D. Eraklis of Exodus Film Group serving as executive producer.

“I am so pleased that my friend Christopher Manning chose to tell my story this way and will bring together so many artists and treasured collaborators to be a part of it,” Ivory said in a statement. “I deeply respect and trust his vision and have enjoyed lending my voice to the process.”

“James Ivory has touched generations of audiences through his seminal films and is an inspiration for the way that he has continued to reinvent himself over the course of an unparalleled career,” Manning said in a statement. “It’s a true joy learning from one of our great cinema artists. I am thrilled to be making this very personal portrait.”

Shot in New York, Venice, Florence, London, Paris and Southern Oregon, “James Ivory: In Search of Love and Beauty” follows Ivory from his youth and rise to international acclaim, through the tragic loss of longtime creative partners Merchant (who was also the director’s domestic partner) and Prawer Jhabvala, to the present. It also examines his evolution into an Academy Award-winning screenwriter who leads an active and creative life well into his 10th decade. 

Manning’s short films include “Isha,” “Nowhere” and “Jamie.” They were made with the support of the British Film Institute and British Council, and received numerous nominations and awards at festivals worldwide.

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