Onur Tukel

Onur Tukel

CEFF’s version of the Proust questionnaire

1. What is your favorite movie theater and why?
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, for its very strict policy requiring proper cinema going etiquette. I was comforted by the very serious message they play at the beginning to ask you to turn off your phone.

 2. Your favorite movie rant.
Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross. He is in the movie for maybe four minutes, he wasn’t even supposed to be in it since the original theatre play doesn’t have that character, but he just comes in and gives this great speech to all the employees telling them that if they don’t close they’re fired. Or Chevy Chase screaming at his family telling them to have fun, in Vacation. Or even Eddie Murphy in 48 Hrs.

3. The death scene you will never forget.
To Live And Die In L.A. where one of the main characters, a police officer, gets killed, shot in the face, midway through the film. I’ll never forget that scene, it has always terrified me.

4. The first movie poster that you hung on your walls.
I never really put movie posters on my walls…

5. What movie character do you identify with the most?
I’d like to be some version of the current James Bond, Daniel Craig. Because he’s sexy and he is James f***ing Bond.

6. Which look to camera struck you the most?

Jean Claude Van Damme in JCVD, the monologue he gives at the beginning is just brillant and moving.

7. What movie made you travel the most?

Hideous Kinky with Kate Winslet playing a British mother of two kids, living as a nomad in Morocco.

8. If you had to live in a film, you would choose…
Waking Life by Richard Linklater, where the character is caught in a dream, aware of his dream state, not being able to wake up. He goes on a philosophical journey through dream, meeting very interesting people along the way. On the other end of the spectrum, the care-free film Jackass: The Movie would probably be a nice place to be, just drinking and being an idiot.

9. The movie that scared you the most.
The Exorcist, one of the few movies I’ve seen where they still make you believe the Devil could be real.

10. The movie that made you laugh the most.
All the early Eddie Murphy comedies.

Portrait of Onur Tukel

Onur Tukel is an American director of Turkish descent. He grew up in North Carolina. Although he enlisted for Film Studies he changed his major midway through to Graphic Design, fearing that he would not be able to make a living out of a filmmaking career. “I’ve always had a job that I focused on, made my money, bought my house, and then spend a bit of it on making my own movies”.

On his free time, Tukel would make homemade movies with his friends, never thinking he was going to really pursue it, until 1995, when he made his first feature film House Of Pancakes. He cites  Robert Rodriguez’ El Mariachi, Richard Linklater’s Slacker and Kevin Smith’s Clerks as major influences. “I love them because they are low-budget films, made with 16mm film and they are so amazing”. Painters, more precisely German expressionists, including Otto Dix, George Grosz and Max Beckmann are amongst his non-film influences. “I love the sense of pain and frustration in the characters, the combination of a very cartoonish look while also being very morbid.” Cartoons, and more precisely those by Jules Feiffer and even more by Charles M. Schulz are also a great influence. “The Peanuts characters are drawn with really simple lines but their voices are neurotic and sarcastic: I love how they treat very adult themes.”

“With my first movies I really was more focused on the picture and craft of cinema. I would storyboard every shot and try to imagine a look. Now that I’ve become older I’m more interested in performances than craft.” He credits his early inclination towards image-driven films to his training and work experience as a graphic designer. To this day he still makes his living in graphic design while also working as a children’s book writer and illustrator, a painter and recently, an actor.

Summer of Blood, a horror comedy and his sixth feature film, tells the story of an an always complaining selfish New Yorker (played by Tukel) whose life is turned upside down when he gets bitten by a vampire. The director describes it as a dialogue driven movie, with very raw imagery. “We used two cameras to shot quickly and have a very spontaneous and immediate feel.” The inspiration came from four other movies, all focusing on a central character that is self absorbed, narcissistic, borderline deranged: The Comedy by Rick Alverson, Vampire’s Kiss by Robert Bierman, American Psycho by Marry Harron and Habit by Larry Fessenden. “Ultimately my movie is about selfishness” explains Tukel.

Today Onur Tukel lives in New York and is working with a musician, creating music videos for all the songs of his album, that will then lead to the creation of a film about the musician’s life, trying to balance work, music and family. He also stars as a journalist investigating a crime in an upcoming semi-documentary.


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