Perhaps the most special of the special events set for the Greenwich International Film Festival will be the appearance of legendary writer-director James Ivory at a screening of the recently restored version of his early hit, “Shakespeare Wallah.”

The 1966 film about a second-rate British theater troupe touring India was Ivory’s first major art house success in a career that would go on to include “A Room with a View,” “Howards End” and “The Remains of the Day.”

Ivory’s continuing importance on the international movie scene was demonstrated in March when he won an Academy Award for his “Call Me By Your Name” screenplay. The 89-year-old filmmaker is now the oldest-ever Oscar winner. He also became an unlikely fashion icon when the shirt he wore to the ceremony — decorated with a line drawing of his film’s star, Timothee Chalamet — caused a social media sensation (the shirt can be ordered online).

The Saturday, June 2, 11 a.m. appearance by Ivory will be at the Avon Theatre art house in Stamford, whose programmer, Adam Birnbaum, is delighted to host such an important figure in his business. (GIFF is also sponsoring a public discussion with Ivory at the Greenwich Library on Sunday, June 3, at 1 p.m.)

“I would say there are few, if any, who have had careers as lasting in the art-house world than James Ivory,” Birnbaum says. “His longevity is a testament to his ability to cultivate projects of interest to a very refined audience. He is a filmmaker approaching 90 years old who still carries great weight and relevance.”

Long before Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino spearheaded the independent film boom of the early 1990s, Ivory and his producing partner, Ismail Merchant, were making movies their way. No matter what distribution company the duo did business with, Merchant made sure his director/partner got “final cut” on all of their films (meaning that no one else could make changes in Ivory’s version of a film).

Ivory’s insistence on total control would inspire other filmmakers, such as Woody Allen and Robert Altman, to demand similar authorship rights on their pictures in the 1970s. Birnbaum says the box office success of the 1985 “A Room with a View,” in particular, made the major studios sit up and take notice.

“The studio system started to emulate the indies,” he says of such Hollywood studio art-house subsidiaries as Sony Pictures Classics and Fox Searchlight.

Ivory became so powerful in the 1980s that major studios came calling to have him make films for them, such as “Howards End” and “The Remains of the Day” (which the director still shot and edited on his own terms).

Ivory has always given a lot of the credit for his success to Merchant — who was his life partner, as well as his producer — and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who did the scripts for 23 of the Merchant Ivory films, including “A Room with a View” and “Howards End,” for which she won Oscars.

When Merchant, Ivory and Jhabvala did “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge” for Miramax Films in 1990, they worked for the company’s notoriously controlling leader Harvey Weinstein, who was known in the business as “Harvey Scissorhands” for his penchant for recutting films without a director’s consent.

But when Weinstein was threatening to make changes in the film, “Ismail said he was going to beat him up,” Ivory told Tim Teeman of the Daily Beast last year. The two men never came to blows because Merchant and Ivory had the support of the film’s star, Paul Newman, who told Weinstein, “If you want me to do press, you’re not touching that movie.”

Ivory has been widely praised in the gay media for his sensitive, unapologetic “Call Me By Your Name” script, about two men falling in love, but the filmmaker broke that movie barrier more than 30 years ago with “Maurice” (1987), about a young man in the 1910s coming to terms with his homosexuality.

Ivory included full-frontal male nudity in “Maurice,” something he wishes director Luca Guadagnino had done in “Call Me By Your Name.”

“When people are wandering around before or after making love, and they’re decorously covered with sheets, it’s always seemed phony to me. I never liked doing that,” the filmmaker told The Guardian earlier this year.

Ivory and Merchant didn’t hide the fact that they were partners in life, as well as in the movies, but the two men didn’t talk about it publicly because of Merchant’s deeply conservative Indian Muslim family. The two men were together from the early 1960s through 2005, when Merchant died at the age of 68 during surgery. (Jhabvala died in 2013 at the age of 85.)

As he approaches his 90th birthday on June 7, Ivory is still in the movie game. He has written a script, “The Judge’s Will,” for director Alexander (“Sideways”) Payne and is in preproduction to direct a film version of Shakespeare’s “Richard II,” starring Tom Hiddleston and Damian Lewis.

In addition to the Ivory events, GIFF is featuring 70 programs over its four-day run, Thursday, May 31, to Sunday, June 3, including screenings of more than 30 new films, panels on such topics as “Women at the Helm: A Conversation About Female Directors” and “The Changing Face of Film Distribution,” and an opening night party that will feature a concert by Lauryn Hill.


Twitter: @joesview