About Me


Tanju is a Turkish filmmaker who writes and directs narrative films that study the complexities of immigration, identity, and memory. His works have been selected for many prominent national and international film festivals.

Tanju received his M.F.A in Film and Media Art from Emerson College (USA) in 2017. He teaches film and video production courses as an assistant professor at Emory University.

He has just completed production of his short film “Woodpecker,” which follows the story of a Kurdish gay graduate student from Turkey seeking asylum while familiarizing himself with the Turkish-Kurdish diaspora in the U.S.

He is currently working on a feature film called “Black Hole,” which focuses on the generational ripples of the Greek-Turkish population exchange within the contemporary context of the U.S. and Turkey.

Artist Statement

A man’s life on earth may be described by an illuminating saying that has been uttered a long time ago: life is like resting under the shadow of a tree before a long-awaited journey. The meaning of the rest lies in the man’s awareness of the origin and the destination of his journey, which determines the way he spends his time under the tree. I intend to spend my time by ploughing and harrowing my soul through art.

I believe that cinema is one of the most powerful languages that touches the soul with its ability to elevate an audience from the material world to the spiritual realm through dreams, memories and experiences in present time and by attempting to balance spirituality and realism without falling into either extreme realism leaning towards rigid naturalism or into fantasmatic spirituality devoid of reality.

People are like mirrors. The color of the light that is reflected on the mirror may change but a mirror is a mirror and it is precious. Instead of developing good or bad characters, or pushing them into white and black areas; my aim is to create characters taken from contemporary modern life and drawn in a way that would highlight their complex and detailed personalities.

My reason studying filmmaking by drawing on my background in literature and photography, is the liberating power of the visual language cinema screen offers. I would like to explain my life purpose in a few sentences borrowed from Andrei Tarkovsky:

“Art affirms all that is best in man—hope, faith, love, beauty, prayer … What he dreams of and what he hopes for … When someone who doesn’t know how to swim is thrown into the water, instinct tells his body what movements will save him. The artist, too, is driven by a kind of instinct, and his work furthers man’s search for what is eternal, transcendent, divine”.