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Pain, Shame & Silence: Four Films About Sexual Abuse

François is a prestigious, wealthy lawyer, with a pristine image as a defender of children. But behind closed doors, he hides a monster who has spent 30 years convincing his wife that he is controlling his impulses.

Three decades ago, he raped a boy over a year and a half. Every night he stays in his luxurious house to watch child pornography, justifying himself with the cases he investigates.

Joachim Lafosse, a little-known Belgian filmmaker, thus starts A Silence, a film now competing at the San Sebastián Film Festival in Spain. The silence in the title is not that of the lawyer, but that of his wife, a victim or an accomplice?, who does not realize what her young son is learning from his father.

A similar reflection on brutal legacies appears in Kalak, by the Swede Isabella Eklöf, also in the San Sebastián contest, as well as The Successor, by the Frenchman Xavier Legrand, on the remains of the shipwreck left by a similar predator.

The festival is also screening Quitter la nuit, by the Canadian Delphine Girard, who illustrates how an incident of sexual abuse committed in a car is seen differently by the victim and by the perpetrator.

Together, the four films evoke a pessimistic feeling about the advance of darkness in today’s society.

In Belgium, the story of the pedophile wolf in the sheep’s clothing of a child protection activist gripped the country 15 years ago, when it came to light what the lawyer of two pedophilia victims was hiding. “I was not so interested in that as in the impact of his actions on his family, especially on his wife”, says Lafosse in San Sebastián.

“The eldest daughter, when she finds out what happened, pushes her to report it. The young son is lost… And her? I was interested in delving into someone from another generation, who lives crushed by shame.

For me, she is not an accomplice, but another victim, collateral damage, if you will, of the pedophile. Sometimes we are not aware of how difficult it is to speak, to report, for victims of sexual crimes.”

Joachim Lafosse
Joachim Lafosse on Monday at the screening of ‘A Silence’ in San Sebastián. Juan Herrero (EFE)

This paradox, of suffering a crime and then traveling a treacherous path to prove it, makes up the heart of Quitter la nuit. It is an adaptation of Girard’s short film A Sister, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2020. After a night of partying, a man and a woman get into a car together.

They leave the vehicle with completely different memories of what happened. She faces a string of tests to confirm what happened and receives reproaches for her behavior.

He also sees his world shake, although his memory deceives him. “Even today, it is easier to report a robbery than a rape. It is systemic discrimination, because even if it is a female police officer, the system goes against [the victims],” says Girard.

Daniel Auteuil Un silence
Daniel Auteuil and Emmanuelle Devos in ‘A Silence.’

As Lafosse says, “we forget that if as a society we prejudge or pressure victims, the response is usually silence.” In his film, furthermore, “generational differences provoke different responses.” For the Belgian, the key is in #MeToo. “Women before #MeToo may not have been taught to speak up.”

In A Silence, the perpetrator’s emotional legacy creeps into the behavior of the youngest son. “For him, who sees his father as a hero, just like the rest of the community, repeating his same behavior has some continuity.

That teenager understands that there is a moral limit, and at the same time he has grown up in a family in which this behavior is understood as an illness in treatment,” explains the director. “Who should be his compass? The mother, played by Emmanuelle Devos.

Who does he focus on? The father,” played by Daniel Auteuil. “That behavior ultimately pushes the mother to speak.”

Delphine Girard
Director Delphine Girard three weeks ago at the Venice Film Festival.

The protagonist of Kalak was sexually abused by his father when he was a teenager in Copenhagen. After migrating to Greenland, Jan, married with two children, develops erratic emotional behavior caused by the weight he has carried since his adolescence.

“If you try something over and over again and keep banging your head against the wall, it’s probably a good idea to try a new direction in life, but sometimes it takes a lot of pain and desperation to break the incredibly strong bonds of emotional habits,” explains Isabella Eklöf. Kalak means “dirty Greenlander,” because that is what Jan longs for: to be accepted by a big family.

“There are many taboos regarding sexual trauma in men, not to mention that their emotional relationships are poisoned by what they have experienced. And if it is not faced, it cannot be cured,” says the Swedish director.

Emil Johnsen, Kalak
Emil Johnsen in ‘Kalak.’

After his first film, Custody (2017), about sexist violence within families, the Frenchman Xavier Legrand presented this Tuesday at the San Sebastián competition The Successor, in which a successful fashion designer, the new creative head of a renowned brand, has to return from Paris to his native Quebec when his father dies of a heart attack.

“He was an emotional deserter. He fled to save his neck,” says the director. The protagonist discovers the remains of his father’s monstrous past. “It is a portrait of patriarchy, and we have to remember that patriarchy is also a threat to boys. Sexist violence also affects men,” Legrand explains.

Isabella Eklöf
The director and screenwriter Isabella Eklöf on Saturday at the screening of ‘Kalak.’

Lafosse, Legrand and Eklöf agree on the legacy of sexual abuse: “This violence can be explained by having suffered what has been suffered, but it can never be justified”.

Marc-André Grondin, The Successor
Marc-André Grondin in ‘The Successor.’
Legrand delves into the shame that it leaves the children: “It is a painful, complex emotion to assume and swallow. And there is another kind of shame, the one felt by men in this current society. At least I do feel it. It bothers me, for example, that women earn less than us, or the silence of young men in the face of certain atrocities. That’s what my film is about: why don’t men talk more? Why don’t men try to change things? Because many people benefit from things being this way”.

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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Culture

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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— By Darren Wilson, Team VoiceOfEU.com

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