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A Multitalented
Onur Saylak

Blog
A Multitalented Onur Saylak

15.03.2018

Text: Melikşah Altuntaş
Illustration: Saydan Akşit

Aside from his successful acting career, Onur Saylak received attention with his first short Jungle as a director. After his award winning debut full feature, More, Saylak is now sitting at the director’s seat for television series Şahsiyet; and this year will be among Akbank Short Film Festival guests.

We have been hearing more and more about Onur Saylak, especially recently with his new directing career and the awards he won. Saylak, who has got interested in acting during his university years, and done films, television series and theatre plays since, is a special talent.  That is why it didn’t take much time for him to move from the amateur school plays to Ankara State and Oda Theatres' stage.

Besides his theatre work, Saylak was also discovered by television and took part in the leading roles of series such as Yuvadan Kuş Uçtu, Aşk Buraya Uğramıyor, Ne Seninle Ne Sensiz, Hisarbuselik, Yabancı Damat ve Kod Ad, from early 2000’s onward. His debut on the silver screen came with Özcan Alper’s Autumn, in 2007. Alper’s emotional story and nuanced direction in Autumun won several important awards and became a breakthrough for him. Saylak, who received high praise for his performance, also won the Best Actor award from Cinema Writers Association, SİYAD.

Saylak kept his acting career busy with an important role in producer and director Tomris Giritlioğlu’s sensational television series Asi ve Gönülçelen, another small role in Giritlioğlu’s full feature Pains of Autumn (2008), and kept on portraying characters in films like Nelsi Çölgeçen’s Brought by the Sea (2009), Zeynep Dadak and Merve Kayan’s Blue Wave (2013) and  Özcan Alper’s Memories of the Wind (2015). He also was on television with series Nefes, Sensiz Olmaz, Ağır Roman ve Hayat Ağacı as well as starting to work on his first directing projects. 

In 2015 Saylak make his directing debut with Jungle, a short he co-wrote with Doğu Akal and Hakan Günday and co-directed with Akal. Aside from Saylak, Akal and Günay; the team of Jungle, which will continue working together in future projects as well, included film editor Ali Aga and cinematographer Feza Çaldıran. The short was a Adam and Eve allegory that deals with the refugee crisis, and Saylak enjoyed awards and praise from both national and international festivals.

While acting on popular series like Hatırla Gönül and Vatanım Sensin, Saylak also began preparations for his directing debut for full feature, More. The film is an adaptation of Hakan Günday’s novel with the same name, adapted to screen by Günday himself, together with Doğu Akal and Onur Saylak. On scenario and production stages, More traveled important festivals, collecting support and gaining funding. Making its world premiere in Karlovy Vary Film Festival, More is striking story on the power struggle between 14 year old Gaza and his refugee smuggler father, Ahad.

More received four awards from Adana Film Festival, in which it was nominated for a Golden Boll, as well as Best Film and Best Actor awards for Hayat Van Eck and Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan from 54th National Competition. Afterwards, More’s run in theaters was also a success, receiving high praise from critics and audiences alike. Despite being Saylak’s debut in full feature, More shines with a mature direction sense, great editing and cinematography, easily becoming one of the successful examples of recent Turkish cinema.

While More was continuing its run at the theatres, Onur Saylak went back to theatre stage, sharing leads with Zerrin Tekindor, Şebnem Bozoklu and İbrahim Selim on a production of Street Car Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. Saylak recently also took on the director seat with his usual behind the camera team for Puhu TV’s Şahsiyet series, which looks like going to be a world-class television experience  with an exciting cast of names such as Haluk Bilginer, Müjde Ar, Cansu Dere, Metin Akdülger and Şebnem Bozoklu.

 

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