R.I.P. (Bill of) Onar Films

The promised regular updates in April didn’t happen and you don’t have to expect them to return this month either. The Avenue will have to update whenever I have a free moment. I don’t mind the busier life as much as I hate the fact of missing important news. Like the death of Bill Barounis in October. Bill was the man behind Onar Films, a small Greek company releasing Turkish cult movies from the 60s and 70s. I say “releasing”, but Bill liked to call it “saving them from obscurity”. Bill’s real name was Vassilis, but he preferred using the American-sounding name Bill to his international customers (he also sold videos on eBay as “deathland”) and correspondents, so in his honour, I’ll stick to Bill throughout this article.
The last I’d heard (from the man himself) was that he’d ended up in a wheelchair after suffering a stroke (caused by a brain tumor). Even that didn’t stop the man from dreaming about a next release.

In his short life, Bill gave 13 dvd releases to the world under the name of Onar Films. He was the mastermind behind the company and got the help from three other people. Bill outlived Metin Demirhan and now, the two remaining men, Turkish director Kunt Tulgar and film journalist Ali Murat Guven, do their best of sell the remaining stock of the Onar Films releases. All the money earned from this will go to Julia, Bill’s widow and their child.

Regular releases cost 25 Turkish lira (approx. 11 euro/14 dollar) and double bills are available for 30 lira (13 euro/17 dollar). You can contact Ali at onarfilms.lastfilms@yahoo.com if you’re interested in a title.
All the movies are down to their last 90 copies or less, apart from Cellat which is finally sold out. If you’ve always wanted to get your hands on dvd releases of Turkish Spiderman (3 Dev Adam), Turkish Superman, Tarzan in Istanbul, Turkish James Bond (Altin Cocuk) or Turkish giallo movies, it’s thanks to Bill that this became possible.

The website to go to is in Turkish, but you can mail them for further information and you’ll get a reply in English (including an estimate of the shipping costs to your country). The link is here, and if you can’t see the list of movies, click on “Filmler” in the tab under the introduction.
I have contacted Ali and he told me they’re trying to get all the stock from Greece to Turkey, but they can only take as many as Customs control allows them. That’s why three of Onar releases will only become available in May. They are Kadin Dusmani (a Turkish giallo), Karanlik Sular (an odd one out for Onar as it was a 90s release) and Demir Pence Korsan Adam (with a Turkish Fantomas as evil mastermind).

Throughout my time as a DV reviewer, I occasionally got my hands on a book or movie to review. I can honestly say that I’ve never corresponded by anyone as passionate about his releases as Bill. This becomes evident in the releases: the first suffered from bad English subtitles and Bill didn’t rest until he found better translators. There is a world of difference between the first and final release of Onar Films. That in itself is enough proof that Onar Films was a labour of love. If you can spare some money, this may be a good way to spend it on. The movies will not be pristine (Bill often worked with the only available prints in order to get something on dvd that was as decent as it could get), but it’s impossible not to watch a dvd of Onar Films and feel the dedication put into this project. If you’re unsure about the films, “Onar Films” is a tag at the Avenue now, so you can get some further information on the movies.

In one of the mails Ali wrote about Bill (which I found on a forum), he wrote: “If you don’t have a deep love for the trash genre, you cannot be a second Bill.”

Bill Barounis will be missed.

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