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Ralph and Natasha lead tribute to Ismail Merchant

March 19, 2006
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Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson headed up a flock of screen stars and other film world luminaries attending the premiere of Ismail Merchant's last movie with his partner James Ivory, The White Countess, in London's West End on Sunday night.

Many of those present expressed their admiration for Ismail, of the famous Merchant-Ivory production team, who died last May at the age of 68.

Among them, Vanessa Redgrave, who stars in the film with her sister Lynn and daughter Natasha Richardson. The Merchant-Ivory films, she said, stood out for offering roles that "really interest you and that you care about deeply".

Audiences will remember movies like Howard's End, The Remains Of The Day, The Bostonians and A Room With A View for their visual beauty and outstanding period evocations.

The White Countess, which offers a detailed insight into Shanghai in the 1930s, continues that tradition.

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Photo: ©
White Countess protagonists Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson at the West End premiere. The screening was also a tribute to the late filmmaker Ismail MerchantPhoto: © EMPICSy
Photo: ©
The Duchess of York with Ralph, who plays a blind American diplomat in the moviePhoto: © Getty Images

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