BNL, the bank for Italian cinema for over 80 years


Poster of BNL celebrating sixty years of support to Italian cinema, 1996 - BNL Historical archives

Cinema involves both creation and production. In France, BNP Paribas has close ties with the seventh art: financial support, partnerships with festivals and emblematic cinemas, and the restoration of films. The BNL (formerly Banca Nazionale del Lavoro), an Italian subsidiary that joined the Group in 2006, is a key player in Italian cinema. More than 80 years of support and masterpieces.


  • Financing Italian cinema

Founded in Rome in 1913, the BNL was originally called Istituto Nazionale di Credito per la Cooperazione. The aim of this establishment was to support the development of rural Italy by financing infrastructures and cooperative expansion projects. In 1929, in accordance with the wishes the government, the bank became a public entity.

It then adopted its present-day name: Banca Nazionale del Lavoro. It soon became clear that Italian cinema was a market to defend. In 1935, the BNL set up a department specialised in credit for the film industry. The department grants medium-term credit facilities to produce, distribute and market films on domestic and foreign markets.
BNL also works to improve cinema theatres, in particular by developing the first multiplex theatre in 1986, the Odeon in Milan. In 1994 the role of BNL was confirmed by law and the mission of the intervention fund was widened. The distinct department was brought back into the BNL fold in 1998. Between 1935 and 2015, the bank’s financing agency provided funding for almost 5,000 films. The BNL mission has been implemented jointly with Artigiancassa spa since 2007.


Artwork of BNL prepaid cash card with the Festa Internazionale del Film di Roma slogan “Cinéma mon amour” – BNL Historical Collections

  • The Art and the style

In 1937, Cinecittà, the city of cinema, was inaugurated to the south-east of Rome. It offered all the technical resources necessary to shoot films. This was a way of counteracting the supremacy of Hollywood by deploying the financial resources needed to help Italian cinema thrive. The BNL is involved in all stages of the film industry, from production to distribution. Between 1950 and 1970 was the golden age of cinema: Visconti, Antonioni, Pasolini and Zeffirelli all used the studios of Cinecittà.



BNL advertising poster for the Festa Internazionale del Film di Roma – BNL Historical Collections



  • Before and after the film

BNL has not only supported Italian cinema for 80 years, it has also enabled it to exert its influence internationally. Rome, Open City by Rossellini in 1944, La Dolce Vita by Fellini in 1960, Cinema Paradiso by Tornatore in 1989, The Son’s Room by Moretti in 2001 and The Great Beauty by Sorrentino in 2013 are some of the masterpieces that the bank has financed.

BNL has been managing the cinema industry fund since 2007 with Artigiancassa Spa on behalf of the Italian cultural heritage and activities ministry for production, distribution and current activities. Finance is aimed at both production and distribution (in particular to purchase and equip theatres) and to help export films. Finance comes from bank funds or public financing. BNL expertise means that it is the only Italian bank to have secured a hundred million-euro credit facility from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for this activity.
Its commitment can also be seen in BNL partnerships with leading cinema events such as the Rome International Film Festival, the Silver Ribbons event, the David di Donatello prize, Cinemadamare, Sabaudia, Venice Days and the International Critics Week as part of the Venice Biennale.

Its commitment can also be seen in its partnerships with major events dedicated to cinema: the Rome International Film Festival, the Silver Ribbons event Venice Days,  the David di Donatello prize, Cinemadamare, Sabaudia, and the International Critics Week as part of the Venice Biennale.



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