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Italian shorts aim to boost morale

Intesa Sanpaolo bank investing in films

Banks may be going bust in the West, but at least one Italo lender is still bullish on movies.

Leading Italo bank Intesa Sanpaolo is bankrolling some of the country’s top helmers to shoot morale-boosting shorts that will play in theaters, on TV and on the Web.

Hatching the first batch are venerable auteur Ermanno Olmi, Oscar winner Gabriele Salvatores and last year’s Cannes Jury Prize winner Paolo Sorrentino. The series of seven- to 10-minute pics are “about rediscovering a civilization of dialogue and not losing hope,” says Olmi. His short, “The Prize,” is about two femme researchers who find a way to cure juvenile diabetes.

Salvatores is shooting “Stella,” a short about a little girl who shines despite having a drug-addicted mom, while Sorrentino’s “The Slow Game” is centered around a rugby match that becomes an uplifting metaphor.

The bank-sponsored shorts, which begin unspooling in April, are not direct plugs for Intesa Sanpaolo, which will just get a mention in the closing credits.

And, alas, the bank’s largess hasn’t given it any extra cachet with analysts. Goldman Sachs lowered Intesa Sanpaolo’s stock rating from “neutral” to “sell” on March 12.

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