English-lingo pic stars Sean Penn, Frances McDormand

Italo production company Medusa and bank Intesa San Paolo have boarded helmer Paolo Sorrentino’s “This Must Be the Place” starring Sean Penn and Frances McDormand.

In an unusual financing deal, the bank is taking an equity stake in the $28 million pic, one of Italy’s most high-profile and highly anticipated films of the year.

“Place” is mounted as a three-way Italy-France-Ireland co-production with Italy’s Indigo Film and Lucky Red, Gaul’s Arp Selection and Ireland’s Element Pictures.

First unveiled in the run-up to the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, “Place” toplines Penn as a retired rockstar hunting the Nazi criminal who ordered his father’s concentration camp execution. McDormand plays his wife.

David Byrne will compose the score.

Intesa will tap into Italy’s recently introduced tax credits. Pic, which is 70% financed out of Italy, is also benefitting from the EU’s Eurimages co-production fund.

Pathe, which has been selling internationally, closed a slew of presales on the pic in Cannes in May. Medusa will distribute in Italy.

Principal photography on Sorrentino’s English-language debut is due to start Aug. 16 in Dublin with seven more weeks of shooting in the U.S.

Sorrentino, speaking at a Milan presser on Thursday via satellite link from New York, recounted how Penn, when he headed the Cannes jury in 2008, told him he wanted to work with him after seeing his “Il Divo,” which took the fest’s Prix du Jury that year.

With Penn in mind, Sorrentino wrote the screenplay for “Place” in tandem with Italo scribe Umberto Contarello, whose previous credits include Gianni Amelio’s “The Missing Star.”

Sorrentino told journos the film has a double theme. “On the one hand, it’s about a father-and-son relationship,” he said.

“On the other, it delves into the theme of the Holocaust, which is a lot riskier, but also something I’ve been thinking about a lot.”

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