About the filmmaker
Massimo Alì Mohammad
Massimo Alì Mohammad was born in Naples 1983 to an Italian mother and Pakistani father. He took art and video studies at Naples University L’Orientale and started to shoot short films in 2002. In 2008, he won the special mention of the jury at Torino Film Festival with the short La Nonna (The Grandmother). He also collaborated with the English theatrical group Organic Theatre, shooting documentaries about their works.
In 2010, he moved to Ferrara to finish his studies, graduating with a degree in the history of cinema. While at the university in Ferrara, he started collaborating with the cultural association Ass.ne Feedback, shooting documentaries and videos. The first was Mignon, about a porn cinema in a deconsecrated church, then The Secret of the Earth, about the tradition of looking for truffles, and Das ist Walter, about the cultural renaissance of the city of Sarajevo following the Balkan conflict.
After making more than a dozen short movies (fiction and documentary), Love Among the Ruins is his first feature film.
About the production company
The auspicious origins of Meyerhar Productions
After long careers as public broadcasting executives and producers, Richard Meyer and Susan Harmon turned to other pursuits—he to film and she to Italian. He returned to his first love—film—by writing books about Chinese silent film stars, teaching film at Seattle University and going to film festivals around the world. She wanted to pursue her lifelong dream to learn Italian, and after a couple years of intense studying started to lobby for spending more time in the country where they speak that language.
Since Meyer and Harmon are married, he not only wanted to indulge her desire, but also to be with her. Consequently, he suggested that they should begin producing films with a young Italian director whom they had met some years before at “Le Giornate del Cinema Muto”–a weeklong silent film festival held each year in Pordenone, Italy. It was a win-win: They could spend more time in Italy and get into the independent film business as well.
It all came together in the organization of Meyerhar Productions in 2014. This first film, Love Among the Ruins is written and directed by Massimo Ali Mohammad, a native of Naples who now lives in Ferrara, Italy where the movie is set. Meyerhar Productions is based in Seattle, Wash. where Meyer and Harmon live on a houseboat.
About Ferrara, Italy
Home to more than 130,000 residents, Ferrara is located in the province of Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy, 31 miles northeast of Bologna. Thanks to the d’Este family who ruled for about 400 years (1208-1598), Ferrara is a magnificent blend of Medieval and Renaissance architecture. Ercole d’Este hired architect Biagio Rossetti in 1492 to seamlessly meld the newer section to the old. There are still many early Renaissance palaces, and the walls around Ferrara are some of the best preserved in Italy. Today, the city can be explored on foot or by bicycle and as such, is one of the most popular provincial cities in Italy for travelers today.
Known for its beauty and cultural significance, Ferrara has been named a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
According to UNESCO: “Ferrara is an outstanding planned Renaissance city, which has retained its urban fabric virtually intact. The developments in town planning expressed in Ferrara were to have a profound influence on the development of urban design throughout the succeeding centuries. The brilliant Este court attracted a constellation of artists, poets and philosophers during the two seminal centuries of the Renaissance.
Among the great Italian cities, Ferrara is the only one to have an original plan that is not derived from a Roman layout. It did not develop from a central area but rather on a linear axis, along the banks of the Po River, with longitudinal streets and many cross streets around which the medieval city was organized. The most significant characteristic of Ferrara's urban history rests on the fact that it developed from the 14th century onwards and, for the first time in Europe, on the basis of planning regulations that are in use nowadays in all modern towns.
A dirigible, also called an airship, is a term used to describe an aircraft with the ability to navigate through the air under its own power. Early forms of dirigibles used hydrogen gas as the lifting gas, which is less dense than surrounding air and was readily available in the early 1900s.
H.G. Wells’ The War in the Air, published in 1908, predicted the use of airships as bombers and weapons. The Italian forces were the first to use dirigibles for military purposes during the Italo-Turkish War, which began in March 1912. During World War I, the dirigible was used early in the war by the Germans, French and Italians for scouting and targeted bombing.
Dirigibles were susceptible to being shot down. To address this, new designs were developed allowing them to reach greater altitude. This created a new problem, however, of making bombing accuracy even worse as they flew at higher altitudes.
By the end of the war, airplanes had replaced dirigibles or airships as bombers. Germany’s remaining airships were destroyed or handed over to Allied powers as part of its war reparations.
About Italy and World War I
On May 3, 1915, Italy officially entered the war on the side of the Allies—Britain, France and Russia—by declaring war on Austria-Hungary. Italy joined the Allies even though it was previously allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Under the secret London Treaty, the Allies promised Italy more land if the young country joined their side.
Italy had just become a unified nation in 1859 and yet managed, out of a total population of about 36 million people, to mobilize 1.2 million men to fight in the war. By the end of 1917, the Austrians and Italians had fought 11 battles with heavy losses on both sides. The fighting ended on the Italian front in November 1918, with the Italians suffering a loss of more than 650,000 Italians killed in action or dying from wounds suffered in World War I, and more than 950,000 wounded in action.
Love Among the Ruins is part of the Italian national program for commemorating the Centenary of the First World War promoted by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers – Cabinet for the Anniversaries of National Interest.