Amenta puts money on ‘Banker’

Director to adapt Yunus bestseller

ROME — “Banker to the Poor,” the best-selling autobiography of Nobel prize-winner Muhammad Yunus who devised the system of microcredit loans for the poor, is being adapted into a film boasting a “Slumdog Millionaire” angle.

Italian helmer Marco Amenta is developing the English-language feature for a planned early 2010 shoot in Bangladesh, where Yunus founded his Grameen Bank, which makes small loans with no collateral to enterprising but poor women unable to obtain credit from traditional banks.

Yunus is on board as a consultant with final screenplay approval.

Amenta’s Rome-based Eurofilm is in advanced negotiations to co-produce with several international partners including Germany’s Pandora Film.

Eurofilm purchased rights to the tome from Gallic publisher Editions Lattes.

Though casting is still being finalized, Amenta said “Banker” will topline two Indian leads with international cachet as well as a Western star and local talent.

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The budget will be about $6.3 million which, Amenta joked, “will keep us in touch with the reality of a microcredit story.” Some Italian subsidy coin is being provided.

” ‘Slumdog’ has become our inspiration,” said Amenta who describes “Banker” as being “along the same lines, in that it’s a tale of poverty on the Indian subcontinent with an exciting and inspirational story suitable for a wide audience.”

The screenplay is co-penned by Amenta with Italo scribe Sergio Donati whose copious credits include Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West” and Amenta’s “The Sicilian Girl,” an anti-Mafia drama that opens in Italy this weekend and will unspool in Gaul in May.

Founded by Yunus, an economics professor, in the late 1970’s, Grameen Bank has helped over 4 million women and their families combat poverty in Bangladesh, while becoming a $2.5 billion enterprise. The microcredit model has spread to over 50 countries, including the U.S.

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