Thursday, October 06, 2011

R.I.P. Bill Barounis of Onar Films

It has just come to my attention that Bill Barounis, the man responsible for the small but important DVD label Onar Films, passed away earlier today.

I was not aware of it, but Bill was reportedly diagnosed with brain cancer a couple of years ago; the last update on his website mentions a stroke and being wheelchair-bound. But it is to Bill's single-minded (and often single-handed) determination and devotion to Turkish cinema that a handful of fascinating oddities, considered too outré for wider release, found their way to DVD in subtitled and extremely limited editions.

VIDEO WATCHDOG reviewed a number of Onar Films' titles in the past -- Ramsey Campbell, John Charles and David Kalat all took particular interest in the field Bill was so individually mining. I don't know if anyone else is in place to fulfill new or outstanding orders at Onar, but you might want to head over to their website, click on "Contact Us" and submit a query about the availability of their remaining titles -- or perhaps just a heartfelt message of thanks. In his own way, Bill Barounis was one of the video industry's visionaries... and obviously, he loved movies more than most.

As a reminder of his enterprising spirit, here's a link to an interview conducted with Bill a few years ago when Onar was just beginning. This photo of Bill was first published at enlejemordersertilbage.blogspot.com and we hope his friends there won't mind its use here.

4 comments:

  1. David Gomien9:13 PM

    I had the pleasure of doing business with Bill on many occasions during the heyday of his tenure as Deathland on eBay. He always did business with honor and integrity and was always willing to go the extra mile to ensure I enjoyed the plethora of Greek and Turkish VHS treasures he had to offer. A fine gentleman who was dedicated to sharing the films he loved, Bill will be greatly missed.

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  2. "Go the extra mile". He sure did. A couple of years back I mentioned in a forum post on the Greek forum Cinehound that video tapes from Greece often got banged up in the mail. After that Bill used TWO padded envelopes when he sent out tapes!

    Unfortunately, one might not get a reply from the Onar contact address. Bill was the only person "working" at Onar. As I understand it his wife didn't share his interest in films and probably wouldn't know where to begin.

    And yes, he will be greatly missed.


    NB: I'm the person behind that blog and I don't mind. Anybody feel free to use my photos.

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  3. Thank you, Jack. By the way, a Facebook friend followed the steps I outlined and was told that Bill's wife will continue to fill outstanding orders, though understandably it may take some time. I assume she will be interested in selling off the remaining inventory, but Onar Films as a business entity will cease with Bill.

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  4. David White3:26 PM

    I'm just now reading this. I corresponded with Bill a number of times after my VW article on Turkish cinema was published. For awhile there, he *insisted* on sending me free copies of every DVD he released, even when I was adamant about paying. I eventually just started buying them without contacting him first because I knew he was struggling with sales. I hadn't received an email from him for a few years and now I know why. He passed away owning prints of several extremely rare Turkish films, including one of the lost Kilink films which he never revealed the title of. That hardly matters, though, given that he leaves behind grieving loved ones. What a shame...

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