Friday, September 24, 2021

With video – Documentary showcases extreme athlete crossing desert on foot

Posted by Elena del Valle on September 15, 2021

The Lost Desert

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

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.”

Indian wholesaler of Chinese lab grown diamonds making initial inroads in US

Posted by Elena del Valle on September 1, 2021

A lab grown 1.21 carat D color, VVS2

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

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.

French mystery series focuses on art

Posted by Elena del Valle on August 25, 2021

Art of Crime
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.

Podcast with Staci Reidinger, president, Reidinger Public Relations to discuss PR professionals as advocates of civic engagement

Posted by Elena del Valle on August 16, 2021

Staci Reidinger, president, Reidinger Public Relations
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/

Business school lecturer discusses cryptocurrency issues

Posted by Elena del Valle on August 4, 2021

Crypto Wars
Crypto Wars

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
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.

Podcast with filmmaker Karla Legaspy about her short film The Daily War

Posted by Elena del Valle on July 12, 2021

Filmmaker Karla Legaspy

Filmmaker Karla Legaspy

Photo: Betsy Martinez

A podcast interview with filmmaker Karla Legaspy is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing and Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. She discusses her short film The Daily War with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast.

Karla is a Los Angeles based director and producer. She is a Two-Spirit MeXicana content creator, actor and film programmer. She is the writer, director and producer of the short film Gold Star, winner of the Latino Public Broadcasting New Media Grant and the 2016 People’s Choice Award for the PBS Short Film Festival. Karla co-produced AdeRisa Productions feature film Bruising for Besos about domestic violence in a lesbian community.

To listen to the interview, scroll down and click on the play button below. You can listen by looking for “Podcast” then select “HMPR Karla Legaspy” 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 July 2021 section of the podcast archive.

With video – SoCal PBS station to air Latino short film series in July

Posted by Elena del Valle on June 30, 2021

The Latino Experience
The Latino Experience (from left to right) shorts: Body and Spirit in Times of the Pandemic, Pasos de Valor and The Blue Cape.

Video, photo: PBS SoCal

Southern California PBS station PBS SoCal and KCET is scheduled to air The Latino Experience, a three-part series of short films in English and Spanish, by Latino filmmakers beginning Tuesday July 6 and Wednesday July 7 at 9 p.m. P.T. Five of the 13 films were made by Southern California-based filmmakers. Two of the short films, Body and Spirit in Times of Pandemic; and The Daily War, are set in and around Los Angeles. Scroll down to watch a video trailer of The Daily War.

What criteria was used in selecting the films? “PBS announced a call for submissions for scripted and unscripted projects of all subjects, but were particularly interested in projects that focused on contemporary Latino/a/x culture produced and created by Latino/a/x persons,” a PBS spokesperson responded by email. Filmmakers were eligible for support grants between $5,000 and $25,000. She explained that “Successful submissions needed to include: a clear story arc; confirmed access to the story and participants; a unique perspective on contemporary Latino/a/x culture; an engaging formal and aesthetic approach.”

According to a press release the films for the series were selected ”by a panel of experienced filmmakers” from entries received by PBS following a call for submissions in August 2020. The press release also indicated “The shorts received funding support as well as a national broadcast as part of the series.” The names of the judges and their affiliations were not identified. Bill Gardner and Wendy Llinas are listed as executives in charge for PBS for the series.

When asked what channels PBS used to announce its search for submissions the PBS spokesperson said,”PBS announced the project on PBS.org, through social media, and through their network of member stations. In addition, PBS producing partners such as Latino Public Broadcasting and NALIP also shared the announcement.”

PBS received more than 240 entries. PBS decision makers expanded the series to three hours from the two-hour special they had planned to accommodate “the overwhelming response to the call for submissions.”

When asked to identify the source(s) of funding (public, private, which grants) the spokesperson replied, “The Latino Experience was funded by PBS. Additional funders contributed to the production of some of the individual films.”

Some of the films of the series are: The Blue Cape written, directed and produced by Alejandra López and produced by María José Delgado; Body and Spirit in Times of Pandemic directed and produced by Andrés Caballero; Pasos de Valor written, directed and produced by Natalia C. Bell; The Daily War, a co-production with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), directed and produced by Karla Legaspy and co-produced and written by Adelina Anthony; Noche Buena written, directed and produced by Andres Rovira. It was also produced by (and starring) Ray Tezanos.

Chilean mini-series about Caravan of Death available

Posted by Elena del Valle on June 16, 2021

A scene of Caravan of Death
A scene of Caravan of Death

Photo: Mhz Choice

Beginning this month Caravan of Death (entitled Ecos del Desierto in the original Spanish release) a suspenseful, violent and dark four episode fiction mini-series based on the life of human rights lawyer Carmen Hertz in Spanish with English subtitles, should be available on Mhz Choice, an international streaming service. According to the program credits it was based on the court files of the Caravan of Death case well known in Chile. It recreates a brief period at the end of Hertz and her husband’s life together as well as incidents from 1973 and the military coup that deposed Chile’s president.

The series showcases the work of the lawyer and the tense political situation before and during the Augusto Pinochet era; as well as the human rights violations, rape and murders she accuses the military and the government of committing illegally. Each episode of the mini-series, which according to online source website ChileNovelas Wiki first aired in Chile in 2013, is approximately 50 minutes long. The English subtitles were provided by Mhz Choice. According to promotional materials this is the first Chilean series available on the streaming service.

The series was directed by Andres Wood and produced by Wood Producciones and Chilevision with a mix of actors and archival video from sources such as the Institute National de l’Audiovisual and Chile Films. Actresses, Aline Kuppenheim and Maria Gracia Omagna, portrayed Hertz at two stages of her life. The executive producers were Alejandra Garcia and Carolina Zuñiga and the producer was Alejandro Fernandez.

Podcast with Jon Lieff, M.D., author, The Secret Language of Cells, about why cell communication is important for our health

Posted by Elena del Valle on June 7, 2021

Jon Lieff, M.D., author, The Secret Language of Cells

Jon Lieff, M.D., author, The Secret Language of Cells

Photo: Rocco Coviello

A podcast interview with Jon Lieff, M.D., author, The Secret Language of Cells, is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing and Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. He discusses why cell communication is important for our health with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast.

Jon is a neuropsychiatrist and lecturer, active on social media. After completing his studies at Harvard Medical School, he pioneered integrated treatment programs for the elderly, medically ill, and brain-injured patients. For the past ten years, in his blog Searching for the Mind, he has discussed the latest scientific findings in neuroscience, animal behavior, cellular biology, immunology, and microbiology as they relate to the question of where mind can be found in nature. His book, The Secret Language of Cells: What Biological Conversations Tell Us About the Brain-Body Connection, the Future of Medicine, and Life Itself strives to explain the science of how different cells, bacteria and brain cells, blood cells and viruses speak the same language.

To listen to the interview, scroll down and click on the play button below. You can listen by looking for “Podcast” then select “HMPR Jon Lieff, M.D., author” 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 June 2021 section of the podcast archive.

With video – Documentary spotlights issues faced by some adult caregivers of aging parents

Posted by Elena del Valle on May 26, 2021

It's Not A Burden poster

It’s Not A Burden poster

Photo, video: Greenie Films

It’s Not A Burden The Humor and Heartache of Raising Elderly Parents, a new 90-minute documentary from Michelle Boyaner and Greenie Films spotlights the issues faced by the adult children of several elderly people. Some of them are living in assisted living facilities, some with dementia and or debilitating health conditions; some had passed away by the time the film was made. Boyaner and her mother feature prominently, often in video taken in the car. The emotionally charged 2020 film features candid conversations with the adult caregivers and their parents in several locations in California as well as Arizona, Georgia, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Scroll down to watch a short video introduction.

“Sometimes I pretend like she’s somebody else’s mother and that way I can be nicer to her,” Boyaner, who had been estranged from her mother until she made a promise to look after her to her sister, says in the documentary.

A bit later in the documentary one of the adult women who is her mother’s full-time caregiver asks, “Who’s going to take care of me?” when she gets old like her mother since she has no children. The producers found participants among their circle of friends and their friends. When asked about the goal of the documentary a spokesperson explained by phone that they hoped to remind viewers that when they look at their aged parents they remember who they were and that they are still those same people inside.

Made with the fiscal support of The Film Collaborative and Kickstarter funding. The film was written, directed and produced by Emmy®-nominated filmmaker Boyaner (Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson). Barbara Green (A Finished Life: The Goodbye and No Regrets Tour) served as cinematographer, editor and producer. Katie Ford (Miss Congeniality) and Wendy Zipes Hunter (Voices of Parkland) were producers. The original score composed by Joanna Katcher (Nice Manners) featuring songs by Danielle Ate The Sandwich. Maxine Lapiduss, Aaron Lustig and Barb Held were executive producers.

Gravitas Ventures (North American), a Red Arrow Studios Company, will distribute the documentary due to be released on video on demand (VOD) in the United States June 1, 2021 on iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, and Vimeo.