Posted by Elena del Valle on September 15, 2021
Max Calderan in The Lost Desert
Photos: Empty Quarter Studio
The Lost Desert, Empty Quarter Studio’s first feature length documentary, was acquired by STX and released last month on ad supported TubiTV.com. Most of the story takes place in Saudi Arabia’s Rub’ al Khali desert, where Max Calderan, an Italian extreme athlete, sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream: to walk 700 miles from west to east in an inhospitable uninhabited terrain.
An all male on the ground support team follows him in a caravan of vehicles, monitoring his well-being and filming. From idea to release the 83-minute film required four years of work. The company founders funded the project’s $1.2 million costs, hoping the film will appeal “to anyone who has big dreams and goes to any length to accomplish them. It will appeal to the elite sports athletes and fans, as well as people interested in natural history, science, culture and travel.”
“I met Max Calderan in 2016 and was immediately taken by his charisma, passion, and mission to accomplish his lifelong dream,” said Billy Sprague, president, Empty Quarter Studios, in a press release for the documentary. “I wanted to tell Max’s story and document his last, greatest challenge – to cross the largest sand desert in the world. I’m very proud of our film crew, who captured this inspiring story in one of the world’s harshest, deadliest, and most remote deserts. This is an inspiring story about a man pursuing his lifelong dream. It’s a story about perseverance and passion. And it’s a story about one of the least traveled to, most inhospitable places on earth.”
Described as having spent years crossing deserts on foot Calderan, a driven self-effacing athlete in his fifties, braved punishing heat (averaging 117 degrees Fahrenheit, according to promotional materials), shifting sand dunes of up to 1,000 feet as well as “poisonous snakes, spiders, scorpions, and any number of life-threatening challenges” in the making of the documentary. According to promotional materials, among Calderan’s eleven world records in desert exploration, he has run 90 hours straight without stopping in Oman. He also once ran 225 miles in 75 hours across a Saudi Arabian desert in summer.
Billy Sprague, president, Empty Quarter Studios
When asked about the greatest challenge the film presented Sprague said, “Transporting our crew and thousands of pounds of equipment and life-sustaining supplies in one of the most remote, dangerous, completely off-grid locations.” The greatest reward? “Successfully capturing the story and wrapping production in one of the most remote, dangerous, completely off-grid locations.”
The documentary was directed by Christopher Cassel. Michael Haertlein (Jane Goodall: The Hope) was director of photography, Marcelino Belizario (Bad Suns) handled Aerial Cinematography, Adriano Bravo (Human Weapon) was sound recordist, Benjamin Frank was assistant camera operator, and Rosie Walunas (But It Doesn’t Have Me) was editor.
Empty Quarter Studios, a New York and London based film and television production company, creates original non-fiction content “using moving images to tell epic, immersive and transformational stories borne out of exploration, travel, history, science and everyday life in the world’s most exotic and unreachable places” for global distribution.
Tubi, a division of Fox Entertainment, is an “ad-supported video-on-demand service with over 30,000 movies and TV shows, 65+ local and live news channels, and 250+ entertainment partners.” Stxfilms is a five year old division of Eros Stx Global Corporation, which “produces, acquires, distributes, and markets motion pictures at scale.”
Posted by Elena del Valle on September 1, 2021
A lab grown 1.21 carat, D color, VVS2 Keystar Gems manufactured diamond
Photos: Keystar Gems
There may be good news for anyone in the market for discount lab grown diamonds. Wholesaler Keystar Gems has begun selling their products in the United States. The company buys lab diamond rough grown in China has it cut in Surat, India and sells it for one quarter less than the wholesale price of natural diamonds of similar cut, clarity and color, according to a company spokesperson. The company plans to attend a trade only wholesale event in Las Vegas, Nevada for the first time this year.
When asked about the company’s primary target audience Aagna S. Ajmera, chief marketing officer, Keystar Gems, said by email via a New York publicist, “Ultimately Keystar Gems would love for everyone to own lab-cultivated diamonds, but as far as the company’s direct clientele, Keystar Gems is B2B, selling within the trade to jewelry design ateliers, large retailers, distributors, dealers, and to other lab-grown manufacturers.”
Aagna S. Ajmera, chief marketing officer, Keystar Gems
“On average it takes about 7-10 business days to go from rough to polish during the manufacturing process, which is very fast within the gem trade, and differentiates Keystar Gems from other lab grown manufacturers,” Ajmera said when asked what differentiates Keystar Gems from other lab grown diamond sellers. “This is entirely due to the expertise of Maheshbhai Radadiya, the Founder of Keystar Gems, who still personally studies every new rough diamond, along with the handling team, which has been trained by him. Keystar Gems is also known for having exceptional cutting, polish and symmetry, another distinguishing factor.”
“The colored diamonds are all custom orders,” said Ajmera when asked about color diamonds. “For Keystar Gems, the majority of the demand is for white diamonds.
An additional color treatment is required for most desired colors. Blue diamonds, however, don’t require a treatment. Colored diamonds need to be processed, so it isn’t more difficult to make them per say, it just takes more time to make a colored diamond.”
According to promotional materials provided by the company’s public relations agency, Keystar Gems is producing over 10,000 carats of High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT) lab grown diamonds a month. The diamonds range from 0.03 to 10 carats in size and are available in a variety of shapes and clarities. The company manufactures white, pink, blue and yellow manmade diamonds.
Although natural diamonds can take millions to billions of years to form, an HPHT diamond can be grown in under a week, according to information the agency provided. A company representative explained that “this kind of quantity is seen with Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) diamonds, but has not been seen before with HPHT.” The Surat-based company is owned by Radadiya, founder, and Shivang S. Rao, cofounder and director.
Posted by Elena del Valle on August 25, 2021
Art of Crime stars Eléonore Bernheim and Nicolas Gob
Photo: Mhz Choice
In Art of Crime (L’art du crime in French) Eléonore Bernheim as Florence Chassange and Nicolas Gob as Antoine Verlay play unlikely partners who solve murder mysteries in the French art world. The four season series of episodes of about 50 minutes in length is airing on Mhzchoice.com. According to IMDB.com the first episode of the program, in French with English subtitles, dates to 2017. The program has been popular in France with millions of viewers on French television, according to Toutelatele.com.
With the backdrop of Paris, France the episodic show pairs a ditzy yet likeable and capable art expert who works at the Louvre Museum and consults part time for the police’s specialized art crimes unit (l’Office central de lutte contre le trafic des biens culturels or OCBC by its French acronym per Wikipedia in French), with a grumpy criminal career cop who dislikes everything to do with art.
Despite her partner’s deeply unpleasant personality Florence Chassange appears be secretly in love with him. He seems annoyed by her presence although in time he grows to appreciate her assitance. Louvre exterior and interior shots feature prominently as do aerial photos of Paris and parts of Amboise. One of the episodes was shot in the famous Moulin Rouge, according to Tele Loisirs.
Season 4 of Art of Crime in French with English subtitles airing on Mhz Choice
According to Wikipedia in French the series was created by Angèle Herry-Leclerc and Pierre-Yves Mora and the producers were Arnaud de Crémiers and Isabelle Degeorges. The art historian often imagines seeing and speaking with famous artists long dead. Her conversations with the likes of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Auguste Van Gogh help her solve the art puzzles behind the crimes. Philippe Duclos plays the art historian’s intrusive and clingy father, also an art expert and wannabe investigator. A new season may be on the horizon.
Posted by Elena del Valle on August 16, 2021
Staci Reidinger, president, Reidinger Public Relations
Photo: Staci Reidinger
A podcast interview with Staci Reidinger, president, Reidinger Public Relations, is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing and Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. She discusses public relations professionals as advocates of civic engagement with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast.
A southern Louisiana native, Staci enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1993, was commissioned as an officer in 2004, and served 24 years until retiring as a major in 2017. Staci served in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Australia, Republic of the Philippines, Japan, and stateside.
She is the community engagement chair for the San Diego Imperial County Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Chapter, PRSA National Voices 4 Everyone Civic Engagement Committee Chair and president of HomeAid San Diego Board and interim executive director.
To listen to the interview, scroll down and click on the play button below. You can listen by looking for “Podcast” then select “HMPR Staci Reidinger” and download the MP3 file to your audio player. You can also find it on the RSS feed. To download it, click on the arrow of the recording you wish to copy and save it to disk. The podcast will remain listed in the August 2021 section of the podcast archive.
The following were mentioned by Staci in the interview:
1- Annenberg 2020 Global Communication Report: annenberg.usc.edu/research/center-public-relations/global-communication-report
2- Public Relations Society Civility Task Force White Paper on Modeling Civility: voices4everyone.prsa.org/dialogue/
Posted by Elena del Valle on August 4, 2021
Photos: Kogan Page, Erica Stanford
Fraudsters and scammers are conning millions of people out of their life savings every year using cryptocurrency scams, according to Erica Stanford. She says an underworld of dirty dealing and scams has opened around cryptocurrencies. Those behind the frauds are relying on a variety of strategies such as cult-like tactics, celebrity endorsements and events filling Wembley Arena in London, United Kingdom; it’s shockingly easy to be deceived she says in Crypto Wars Faked Deaths, Missing Billions and Industry Disruption (Kogan Page, £14.99). The softcover book was published July 1, 2021.
It took Stanford a year to research, write and edit the book. In it she shares the stories behind the biggest scams on record, including a death faking Canadian founder who escaped with millions, a so called Cryptoqueen on the run from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a $50 million dollar prank gone wrong. When asked if she received compensation to include or exclude anyone she clarified, via a publicist, that she “did not receive any form of compensation to leave anyone out of the book.”
When asked what is the primary target audience for the book she replied: “Anyone! It’s intended to be fun, light reading, giving an easy-to-read overview of the worst scams and craziest stories of the crypto space.”
Erica Standford, author, Crypto Wars
“It was the publishers’ idea!,” she replied when asked why she wrote the book and how she will know if she was successful. “They approached me with the idea to write about the biggest scams in crypto. Successful – gosh, just finishing it, I was happy! I’d never done anything like that before and still can’t quite believe I’ve actually written a book, that it’s published and so many people are buying it! When I saw it in a shop for the first time, WH Smiths in London had made it as their business book of the month. I couldn’t quite believe it when I saw it really prominently displayed on shelves in a shop.”
Regarding the means and specific channels in which she promoted the book she replied, “The publishers have been a great help in this and have got the book listed with retailers and Amazon, as well as organising some PR. I have shared the book widely on LinkedIn and with all my connections in our Crypto Curry Club community, who have been very supportive and helped share it with their networks and in our Crypto Curry newsletter. I also reached out to some podcast hosts, as well as being asked to be on many podcasts and interviews with show hosts who wanted to talk about crypto scams. Most of the time trying to promote the book has been guest appearances on podcasts and writing articles for publications and newspapers who have been keen to feature it.”
When asked what, if any, impact the pandemic continuing may have on cryptocurrencies she replied, “It has raised awareness! More people than ever before, especially younger people, are looking at crypto, aware of some of the failures of fiat, of money printing and inflation and losing trust in governments, and it seems people have also just had more time to look into it.”
“Do an awful lot of research before looking at going anywhere near crypto!” she said when asked what she would advise readers seeking to understand blockchain and cryptocurrencies and considering investing in them. “Andreas Antonopoulos has an incredible book giving insights on Bitcoin called The Internet of Money, it’s a great read.”
According to her biography Stanford is a crypto entrepreneur and expert, who founded the United Kingdom’s biggest crypto network, and a lecturer at Warwick Business School in the United Kingdom. Kogan Page is an independent publisher of business books and content, according to a press release.
Posted by Elena del Valle on July 27, 2021
Latest OECD employment and unemployment numbers – click to enlarge
According to an embargoed press release from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the OECD area employment rate rose to 66.8 percent in the first quarter of 2021 from 66.7 percent in the previous quarter; wide disparities across countries are visible. The organization defined OECD area employment rate as the share of the working-age population with jobs.
In the first quarter of this year in the United States employment was 68.4 percent compared to 66.9 percent in the euro area, and 77.6 percent in Japan. It is notable that the Netherlands had a 79.3 percent employment rate, the highest in the region, and Greece 59.9 percent, the region’s minimum.
The press release clarified the following: Methodological changes to the European Union (E.U.) Labour Force Survey blur the comparison between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 for EU countries. In addition, a large part of the increase in the third and, to a lesser extent, fourth quarter of 2020 reflects the return to work of furloughed workers in Canada and the United States, where they are recorded as unemployed, whereas in most other countries, they are recorded as employed.
Working with over 100 countries, the OECD is “a global policy forum that promotes policies to preserve individual liberty and improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.”
Posted by Elena del Valle on July 21, 2021
Photo: Mhz Choice
The first season of Inspector Rex (Kommissar Rex) in German with English subtitles is available on Mhz Choice, a subscription streaming service with mostly European programming. After Rex, a police dog, loses his partner in the line of duty he becomes despondent, refusing to eat or drink anything. Seeing the dog’s situation a recently divorced cop adopts him.
An all male cast, staring Tobias Moretti as Richard Moser and Karl Markovics as Ernst Stockinger as well as Gerhard Zemann and Wolf Bachofner, solve crimes in and around Vienna in the 1994 series. Each episode is 45 minutes long. According to IMDB.com the series ended in 2004. The website lists Reginald von Ravenhorst, born in 1991 in Bavaria, Germany and died in 2003 in Germany, as Rex.