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The mysterious killing of indie actress Adrienne Shelly: How a suicide turned into a murder | Culture

On Halloween night in 2006, Adrienne Shelly – one of the most recognizable faces of 1990s independent cinema – was throwing a party for her three-year-old daughter. Shelly was happy and nervous: she was waiting for confirmation that her latest film Waitress, which she wrote, starred in and directed, had been selected for the Sundance Film Festival – an invitation that would take her to the next level as a director.

A few hours after the party, her husband, Andy Ostroy, found her hanging from a sheet in the bathroom of her small office in New York’s West Village, where she would go to work. The media quickly jumped on the news. The New York Post reported: “Indie film star ‘suicide’ stunner – hubby finds gal, 40, hanged in Village apt.” Police also suggested suicide: when Ostroy called them to ask how the investigation was going, he was told that no one was working on the case.

But Ostroy was convinced that Shelly hadn’t taken her life – she had a daughter she loved and was on the brink of fulfilling her dream. “She was the happiest I’d ever seen her,” he says in Adrienne, a new documentary by HBO Max, which he has directed and produced so that no one, least of all their daughter, forgets her. Through a mix of family recordings, interviews with friends like actor Paul Rudd and simple animations, Ostroy provides an intimate portrait of who Adrienne Shelly was, what really happened the day of her death and how the tragedy affected the family. Above all, it is a devastating statement about how life can change in a single moment.

Ostroy’s insistence that Shelly had not taken her life paid off. A few days later, police called him to show him the knot his wife had allegedly made to hang herself. Did she know how to tie a knot like that? Of course not. Nor did he know anybody who had the same Reebok sneakers that left a footprint in the bathroom. A forensic doctor was hired to perform an autopsy, which revealed that Shelly had been strangled. What’s more, she had “fought like a lion” – she hadn’t given up on life.

Shelly always had a clear idea of what she wanted to do in life. She studied acting and producing, then moved to Manhattan to live out her dream of working in show business. She sent her photos off to all the auditions announced in magazines, and one of these photos landed in the hands of director Hal Hartley, who gave her the leading role in his first film, The Unbelievable Truth (1989). Movie critic Roger Ebert described it as a “movie for film buffs,” while the distribution company Miramax, co-founded by convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein, offered to buy the rights if more nude scenes of Shelly were included. Hartley refused, but the experience had given Shelly a taste of what the film industry expected of her.

The front page of ‘Daily News’ on November 7, 2006.
The front page of ‘Daily News’ on November 7, 2006.New York Daily News (NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Her next film with Hartley, Trust (1990), was also well received by critics. It was tipped as a favorite in the Sundance Film Festival, and received the award for best script. The festival also turned Shelly into a muse of independent cinema. Critic Kent Jones described her as “the first performer in movies to suggest a truly suburban intelligence,” and Screen World included her on its 1990 list of most promising actors, alongside Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis.

Hollywood wanted her. But what she found there was disappointing. In the 2002 documentary Searching for Debra Winger, which looks at the pressures faced by female actors, Shelly tells director Rosanna Arquette that her agent once told her she had to look “fuckable” in order to land a role. She discovered that actresses in Hollywood were poorly valued, if valued at all, and set out on her own path: making movies. It was a challenge, but the only way to play good characters was for her to write them herself.

Her first films as a director were met with mixed reviews, but Shelly was confident that Waitress would mark her place in the film industry. The movie, which she wrote when she was eight months pregnant, is about a woman who is abused by her husband, and who, after falling pregnant, falls in love with her gynecologist. Actress Keri Russell was picked for the lead, while Shelly played a supporting role. From the first reading, there was a sense that the movie was going to be important.

The invitation from the Sundance Film Festival to showcase Waitress arrived on the same day that the police arrested Shelly’s killer: Diego Pilco, an undocumented 19-year-old Ecuadorian who had been doing construction work in the building. According to his first confession, Shelly had complained about the noise, and fearing that she would call the police and he would be deported, he pushed her and she fell against a table. Believing her to be dead, he tried to cover up the crime as a suicide. This version, however, was debunked at trial. The truth was that he had entered her apartment to steal from her and when she found him rummaging through her bag, he strangled her and hung her in the bathroom.

Pilco confessed it himself to Ostroy in 2019, when the widower visited him in prison “to humanize Adrienne for him, so that rather than have a lasting image in his head of this panicked woman calling out for the police, he sees a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister. That he understood all the moments in the last 14 years that Adrienne missed, that Sophie missed, that I missed, that everyone missed,” Ostroy explained to The Guardian in December.

Adrienne Shelly in a scene from ‘The Unbelievable Truth.’
Adrienne Shelly in a scene from ‘The Unbelievable Truth.’IFA Film (United Archives / Cordon Press)

When Waitress screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Shelly was not alive to see it. But her family and friends gathered there and turned the event into a loving farewell. Waitress would be Shelly’s most successful film. It made $25 million at the box office, and was even turned into a Broadway musical with an all-female cast.

The shocking news of her death also prompted spontaneous waves of donations, which Ostroy has put towards what Shelly would have wanted. “It became very clear that the mission should be to help people like her – struggling artists, women who didn’t get a fair shake in many ways and needed help,” he told journalist Soraya Roberts. Since then, the Adrienne Shelly Foundation has been giving out grants to female filmmakers. One of these grants was received by Chloé Zhao, who a decade on became the second woman to win an Oscar for Best Director with Nomadland. It is legacy that Adrienne Shelly would be proud of.

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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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