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The Startup, a success story or fake news?

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- Directed by Alessandro D’Alatri and released in Italy today, the film tells the true story of a young Italian Mark Zuckerberg. But the start-up community considers it mere bluff

The Startup, a success story or fake news?
Luca Di Giovanni and Andrea Arcangeli in The Startup

The Startup [+see also:
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, which was produced by Luca Barbareschi for Casanova Multimedia and directed by Alessandro D’Alatri, and was released today in 200 copies by 01, is a film that tells a true story, that of a young Italian Mark Zuckerberg (the definition given by the BBC) who created a platform to help young people to find work five years ago. He’s called Matteo Achilli, and the name of his company is Egomnia. The fact that the writers not only wanted to base the film on but actually use the real names, events and episodes from the life of the brilliant 25-year-old created more than a few problems as soon as the shoot for the film was announced. And this because the start-up community sees Matteo Achilli as a big bluff, a media soap bubble who has damaged the entire world of digital innovation. Facts in hand, the mudslingers day there’s nothing innovative about his idea (LinkedIn is a lot more effective and there are companies out there that do the same thing with a lot of success): in 2015, at the end of its fourth year, Egomnia turned over €314,000, and in the last two years the total number of visits to the site recorded by monitors such as Webtrekk came to fewer than 300,000, whilst there are just 1,200 companies registered on Egomnia. Numbers that are a far cry from those of Silicon Valley, but not the norm for just any Italian web company.

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What struck creative producer Saverio D’Ercole, who wrote the story, and then Barbareschi and D’Alatri, must have been the story of this young boy from the Roman suburbs who finds himself catapulted into “big business” Milan. Matteo (played in the film by Andrea Arcangeli) is in the last year of his studies as a scientifically-specialised high school when he invents the algorithm at the heart of the start-up. He proudly calls it Egomnia, because his girlfriend (Paola Calliari in the film) is always telling him “it’s you against the world”. His father (Massimiliano Gallo), despite having just been fired, gives him €10,000 to get the project off the ground, and Matteo develops the website with a young engineer he pays next to nothing. Meanwhile, Matteo moves to Milan to study business economics at the Bocconi University and starts promoting the idea. A lot of people are interested in the project, and after being mentioned in the BBC’s documentary The Next Billionaires, Egomnia has its ‘big bang’. 

D’Alatri, an expert director of films and dozens of adverts for prestigious brands, shoots the film with master skill, also thanks to his outstanding director of photography Ferran Paredes Rubio, alternating glimpses into Achilli’s private life with sequences showing his rise to success in an almost Scorsesian crescendo (not to mention The Social Network). Young audiences members may be hooked by the “success story” of a young man who knew how to present himself and ended up making headlines. The director said that “in these historical times we need to provide a spark of hope and faith. At least in ourselves. This film is a small way of helping us to never forget”. Matteo abandons his studies at the prestigious Bocconi University to pursue his idea. According to Riccardo Luna, the founder of Wired Italia and StartupItalia!, Egomnia is the perfect example of a post-truth. But the film could help a lot of young people to not give up and try to open those doors that often remain closed.

(Translated from Italian)

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