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Pinochet Returns As A Vampire To Astonish The Venice Film Festival

Augusto Pinochet is still alive. He is 250 years old, and he is a vampire.

Impossible. Absurd. It could only happen in El Conde [The Count]. That is, in a movie.

Augusto Pinochet led a dictatorship that, between 1973 and 1990, murdered at least 3,000 citizens, tortured and exiled many more, annihilated the political opposition and denied rights, imposed neoliberalism on his country and stole and embezzled money from the State he swore to protect. And he never went to jail.

Impossible. Absurd. It must be the product of the same film. But everything in the movie comes from the reports and court decisions on which Pablo Larraín based many of the lines in his feature film, which premiered this Thursday at the Venice Film Festival.

In the end, even the dictator’s immortality is partly true. For the filmmaker, Pinochet is still alive in the Constitution he approved, which is still in effect; in the big businessmen who benefited from and defended him; in the legacy of individualism, inequality, “little mutual compassion” and “greed” that has infected his fellow countrymen; in the divisiveness he still causes in Chilean public debate. According to the director, that had never appeared in a feature film before. Perhaps only Larraín could break that taboo. And only he could do it like this. That’s because he is one of Chile’s most respected and celebrated filmmakers. It’s also because the film is part of Larraín’s cinematic journey, which has already addressed Pinochet in No and Post-mortem. Larraín is a visionary and daring talent, so much so that he made a film about pedophile priests, The Club. And now, he is portraying the dictator in a political satire about vampires… and getting away with it, to boot.

“Some will think it’s too soon. But my conscience is clear. The worst thing the film could do would be to fall into trivialization, empathy, simplification. That would be unforgivable. The limit was always to look at him as a symbol of evil, whose actions and intentions sought to do harm,” the filmmaker told EL PAÍS. In fact, Larraín has been thinking about the project for years. One impetus was the advanced age of the actor that he’d always imagined in the role, Jaime Vadell. But the long wait has meant that El Conde is premiering exactly 50 years after the September 11, 1973, coup d’état in which Pinochet bombed the presidential palace in Santiago and forcibly seized power from Salvador Allende. In addition, the film’s debut comes as Chile is experiencing a turbulent political moment due to the possible approval of a new constitution. The film will be shown in select theaters beginning on the 7th of September and premiere on Netflix on the 15th.

The filmmaker — who “joyfully” voted for Chile’s current president, leftist Gabriel Boric — admits that he is unsure about what to expect. He believes there are two unmovable audiences: on the one hand, the dictator’s “sycophants” and, on the other hand, those who believe that a film cannot and should not depict something so serious. Larraín hopes to reach viewers in the middle who are “willing to see a film that shows how unbelievable impunity made Pinochet eternal.” But those who give El Conde a chance will be rewarded with much more: a world, an atmosphere, an intention, a stamp, ambition, intelligent dialogue, beautiful black and white photography. In a nutshell: viewers will be treated to auteur cinema.

Pablo Larraín poses at the 'El Conde' photocall on August 31, 2023, at the Venice Film Festival.

Pablo Larraín poses at the ‘El Conde’ photocall on August 31, 2023, at the Venice Film Festival. CLAUDIO ONORATI (EFE)

Because the film gradually builds a universe as surreal as it is coherent, laughs come with shivers and the farce is steeped in reality. In the film, everything is possible, both the delusions invented by the script and those that really happened. And then there’s a mixture of both: the sequences of a caped Pinochet flying over the country at night in search of prey evoke the daily life that the dictator has never left, as does the character’s enduring love of heart milkshakes. At the same time, as the director emphasizes, the film alludes to the typical iconography of vampires; the character is even a superhero in reverse. And, curiously, the Venice Film Festival happens to be screening three other films that also focus on bloodsuckers. El Conde doesn’t do the other movies any favors, both because of how challenging it is and because of the high bar it sets.

Aware of the sensitivity of the subject matter, Larraín speaks slowly and weighs his words carefully. At one point, he goes back: he said “avarice,” but he prefers the word “greed” instead. And so on. Because, despite the fact that the dictator died on December 10, 2006, Pinochet is everywhere. He was present two days ago in the suicide of Hernán Chacón Soto, 86, one of the seven ex-military men convicted for the murder of singer-songwriter Víctor Jara during the dictatorship. And, of course, he was there in the 2022 failure of the reform to Pinochet’s Constitution, which is now being attempted for a second time, led by a right-wing majority amid the citizenry’s growing distrust and disinterest, according to polls.

‘I killed hundreds of Reds, and they accuse me of stealing’

“They are ungrateful,” the dictator complains in the film. He also laments the insistence of that “Spanish judge” [Baltasar Garzón], who tried so hard to make him pay for his crimes and nearly succeeded. That’s not so different from what the real Pinochet said in 1998, when he had to step down from leading the Chilean armed forces: “Over these past 65 years, no desire has motivated my professional and personal life more forcefully than that of making my dedication to service coincide with the Fatherland’s major objectives and interests.”

“I killed hundreds of Reds, and they accuse me of stealing. That’s how they humiliate me,” Pinochet adds. It’s for that very reason that the vampire has finally decided to die. Nobody understands him anymore, not even his own relatives, who have flocked to him like vultures. They are worried about Dad, of course. But they are more concerned about all the money he will leave behind. Perhaps the plot is the film’s weak spot, both because of its flaws and because of the original idea: it is so good that it swallows everything else up. The other questionable choice is having the narrator’s voice in English: although the script justifies that decision, it suggests a ploy to market the film more easily around the world.

El Conde, película sobre Augusto Pinochet

A still shot from Pablo Larraín’s film ‘El Conde.’ CORTESÍA

And that’s what it’s all about. Last year, right here in Venice, Santiago Mitre’s Argentina, 1985 reckoned with the trial of the Jorge Videla-led military dictatorship. That was the first time that a film dared to narrate that episode. But someone always has to go first, as was the case of filming parodies that imagined the return of Mussolini or Hitler in Italy or Germany. Of course, some countries condemned or repudiated their dictators. Chile did not. “The trauma stems from the lack of justice. If Pinochet had been imprisoned, his legacy would be very different,” Larraín reflects. And he continues: “I was clear on three things. First of all, his character and his violence were non-negotiable. Second, the understanding that one of the most serious things is that his excesses toward savage capitalism also gave rise to a lack of understanding among us. And third, [Pinochet’s] most invisible legacy [is that] 70% of Chileans live on less than €800 [$868.12] a month, [which is] one of the highest rates of inequality on the continent.”

The interview is over, but Larraín asks for a few more minutes. He does not want to leave any concept half-finished. “It’s important,” he warns. Larraín then quotes Julio Cortázar: “There is only one way to kill monsters: accept them.” Otherwise, they become eternal.


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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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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