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Ascoli Piceno (Italy)

2010 - 2011

Ferrania is the toponym of a Medieval abbey located in the rural and hilly inland of Savona, where the Alps meet the Appenines, not far from the Ligurian coastline. But Ferrania is also internationally renowned as the ‘brand’ of Italian Neorealist cinema and modern photographic technology. No meanings could be more distant. The linkup between the two goes back to the early 1920s, when a large explosives factory established there by SIPE during WW1 was converted into a photographic film factory, taking advantage of the technological alignment between the two productions. The rest is history, in the true sense. First the Fascist autarchy regime and then the postwar economic miracle led the Ferrania complex to expand incredibly. With 170 different products – among which Ferraniacolor 12 ASA, the second color film ever produced worldwide, and the legendary P30, used in movie masterpieces such as “Roma città aperta” and “La Ciociara” – and 4000 employees, Ferrania dominated for long time the Italian market of photosensitive materials, ranking close to leading producers Kodak, Agfa and Fuji. Taken over by 3M in the 1970s, the site was gradually converted to diagnostic and imaging technologies, as a way to compensate the declining film sector affected by increasing digitalization. Further restructurings at the threshold of the new millenium could not prevent the miserable end of Ferrania, which landed in 2009 on an already dying factory.

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