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May 31, 1999
Merchant Ivory Win Raves For New Film
Arthur J Pais in New York
For those who have been wondering where the Ismail Merchant-James Ivory magic has gone, the rave reviews for their Eternity and a Day could be an eye-opener.
The team that gave us A Room With a View, Howards End and Remains Of The Day have a major winner. Eternity was a top award winner at the Cannes film festival, and American critics are raving about it.
But Merchant did not produce it, and Ivory did not direct it. They distributed the film.
Though the Merchant Ivory team have distributed a couple of films in the past decade, this is the first time they have taken up a major art film. Last year, they opened a distribution office in London and released their own film, A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries. Though the film received many decent reviews, it failed – as was the case in the USA – to take off.
"Theo Angelopoulous is one of the major directors in Europe," says Merchant. "And we felt that his newest film, Eternity and a Day, is more accessible than his other films." If the film earns a decent box-office gross – say about $ 1 million – Merchant Ivory could release 3 to 4 such films a year in North America.
The highly atmospheric and lyrical film opened at two theaters in New York. Merchant says, given the ecstatic reviews it has received – with Newsday giving it four (maximum) stars and Daily News giving it three stars – the film could reach over 100 screens eventually.
The movie tells the story of a dying writer who longs to relive in his mind the experience of one perfect day 30 years ago with his wife and their newly born daughter.
The title of the film is the answer by his late wife to his question, "How long is tomorrow?"
But the film is not just about yesterday. For the writer’s life changes when he meets a street urchin, an Albanian refugee from the Kosovo war.
While Eternity and a Day continues expanding across America, Merchant is editing Cotton Mary, his third directorial vehicle, expected to open at the end of the year.
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