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Christopher Nolan’s Cinematic Vision Wins Over Hollywood

A well-known piece of film lore suggests that Akira Kurosawa was the first filmmaker to directly point his camera at the Sun. In his memoir Something Like an Autobiography, Kurosawa wrote that this was one of the taboos of cinematography when he was making Rashomon. He debunked the myth that it would damage the film, proving all the skeptics wrong. Kurosawa recognized the significance of featuring the Sun in one of the most acclaimed films that delves into the contrasts of the human experience.

Decades later, Christopher Nolan has also broken a taboo by using the atomic bomb to captivate global audiences, and is on the brink of clinching his first Oscar for Oppenheimer. The movie has amassed a staggering $1 billion (€915 million) at the box office while receiving widespread critical acclaim. This accolade could be a crowning achievement for the 53-year-old filmmaker, known for his unwavering cinematic vision in an industry where studios often impose their strictures on creators.

“Very few have earned that right,” said Tacita Dean, a British visual artist who works primarily in film. “If Chris wins the Oscar for that movie, he’ll inspire many young directors looking to shoot with old-school photochemical film. He’s been a pioneer in that area.” Dean, an activist defending celluloid over digital, has won awards for portraits of artists like Cy Twombly, Merce Cunningham and David Hockney, whom she introduced to Nolan. Dean thinks Oppenheimer will convince studios to release more 70mm films, which are 8.3 times bigger than 35mm, needing an IMAX projector and a 1.43:1 ratio (common widescreen is 1.85:1).

Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy at the Directors Guild Awards where Nolan won Best Director; February 10, 2024
Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy at the Directors Guild Awards where Nolan won Best Director; February 10, 2024 MARIO ANZUONI (REUTERS)

Nolan and Dean became friends in 2014, though they had crossed paths earlier — both studied at University College London. That’s where Nolan met his wife, Emma Thomas, with whom he has four children. Nolan and Dean are both active in promoting photochemical film, and participated together in Kodak-sponsored events in Los Angeles, Bombay and Mexico City over the last 10 years.

Something Dean once said stuck in Nolan’s head. “The camera sees time — it’s the first machine in history that can do this.” Nolan is a Jorge Luis Borges fan who has explored the passage of time through the lens throughout his career. In his second film, Memento, a man with amnesia (Guy Pearce) searches for his wife’s murderer. The film’s narrative is presented as two different sequences of scenes interspersed during the film: a series in black-and-white that is shown chronologically, and a series of color sequences shown in reverse chronological order.

The film was a success at Sundance, yet its unconventional structure challenged industry norms. Despite a year-long search for a distributor, it eventually premiered in just 11 theaters in its first week. However, Nolan quickly connected with his audience. Within three weeks, it expanded to 76 theaters, ultimately reaching 531 theaters and earning $25 million.

Guy Pearce in a scene from 'Memento.'
Guy Pearce in a scene from ‘Memento.’

Memento earned Nolan his first Oscar nomination in 2002 for Best Screenplay, which he shared with his brother Jonathan, the author of the original short story. Subsequent nominations came for Inception in 2011 and Dunkirk in 2018, which garnered him his first Best Director nomination. Nolan’s wife Emma Thomas has produced all of his feature films, earning Best Picture nominations for Inception, Dunkirk and now Oppenheimer.

On March 10, Oppenheimer, the biopic about Robert Oppenheimer, the lead scientist of the Manhattan Project, is poised for 13 Oscars. It stands as a strong contender in a year where Barbie has also made a huge (pink) splash. Many of his fans view Nolan’s recent success at the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) where he won two out of three nominations, as the breaking of a “curse” — five losses since 2011.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning adaptation of Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin’s 600-page biography shines at the Academy Awards amid a spate of CGI-heavy films with computer-generated stars. For visual effects, Nolan prefers to use small-scale models and optical printing, an old technique that uses one or more film projectors mechanically linked to a movie camera. It allows filmmakers to re-photograph one or more strips of film. In his book The Nolan Variations (2020), author Tom Shone quotes the post-production coordinator for The Dark Knight Rises, the last film in Nolan’s Batman trilogy. “He mentioned working on romantic comedies with more effects than that film, which only had 430 effects shots out of a total of 3,000.”

Christopher Nolan (middle) with the cast of 'The Dark Knight Rises'
Christopher Nolan (middle) with the cast of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’Matt Sayles (MATT SAYLES/INVISION/AP)

That’s also how they made the planets and space rockets in Interstellar. The science fiction movie prompted numerous comparisons between Nolan and Stanley Kubrick, a major influence on his work. “Your mind just takes in what you see, no overthinking, and that keeps you hooked on the story. That’s exactly what Chris is aiming for,” said Ian Hunt, who won a visual effects Oscar for the film starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway.

With Oppenheimer, Nolan aimed to replicate Kurosawa’s feat of capturing intense luminosity on film. But instead of the Sun, it was a nuclear bomb test in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Andrew Jackson, an Oscar-winning visual effects maestro known for Tenet, played a crucial role in realizing this vision. After a series of experiments, Jackson concocted a potent mixture of aluminum powder and iron oxide. When heated to around 2,000 degrees, this mixture produced gleaming pellets that burst into a dazzling light upon detonation. To enhance the visual impact, the footage was later edited in post-production to convey a heightened sense of explosive power.

An enigmatic director

The son of an English father who worked in advertising and an American mother who was a teacher and flight attendant, Nolan grew up between London and Chicago, and embodies the essence of both cultures. Nolan exudes politeness as he offers his actors concise guidance on set, maintaining a strict rhythm from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with just a brief lunch break. Gary Oldman recalls receiving one of the finest and most succinct pieces of direction while filming Batman. “‘Let’s do that one more time,’ Nolan told me. ‘There’s more at stake.’ Yep, got it… I know what you mean.” Enough said.

Nolan also embodies a strong sense of American determination. Recalling a peculiar encounter, Michael Caine shared how a stranger once appeared at his doorstep, eager to offer him the role of Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler. The seasoned star of Alfie politely requested to peruse the script in his own time. However, the persistent stranger — none other than Nolan — insisted, “Can you read it now?” And so, Nolan lingered in the room, sipping tea, until Caine completed his reading of Batman Begins.

Christopher Nolan with his producer and wife, Emma Thomas, at the Golden Globes on January 7, 2024Christopher Nolan with his producer and wife, Emma Thomas, at the Golden Globes on January 7, 2024
MARIO ANZUONI (REUTERS)

During a recent interview with Stephen Colbert, Nolan revealed that he still waits patiently in the same room for actors to read scripts, which are printed in red ink on black paper to prevent photocopying. During filming, actors’ copies bear their names in large letters for easy tracking if misplaced. The technical crew are only given essential pages, rather than the entire script.

“Chris goes to many extremes to do things the way he wants,” said Tacita Dean. “All that is reflected in what ends up on the negative. Every little detail counts, and that attention to detail shines through in the end product.” We’ll soon see if Hollywood finally gives in to Christopher Nolan’s cinematic vision.

Culture

Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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