2017-03-15 / Features

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Serife Potuk

Serife Potuk is a screenwriter, director, producer and cinematographer based out of Astoria. She has been writing, directing and producing her own films since 2015. Serife was born and raised in Turkey and graduated from New York Digital Film Academy. She wants to create films that have something positive to say. Serife is very excited about her latest film, Butterfly, and hopes the film will reach a wide, diverse audience and share a story they may not have known before. She said she is very proud of screening in the Queens World Film Festival because it’s one of the biggest film festivals in Queens.

QG: What initially got you into cinema?

SP: I always liked to watch classic Turkish movies when I was a kid. In America it’s called Turner Classic Movies. I’ve always loved the old films, and it grew from that. I started writing my stories when I was in high school, and I knew that some day, if I could get into the film industry, I would like to be behind the camera.

QG: What actors and films do you count as your greatest influences?

SP: Mirror (1975) by Andrei Tarkovsky – a beautifully poetic and enigmatic art film about love in all of its forms, especially a love of the cinema; Cinema Paradiso (1988) by Giuseppe Tornatore; Forrest Gump (1994) by Robert Zemeckis; The Skin I Live In by Pedro Almodóvar; actresses Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Audrey Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Viola Davis; actors Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman, Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin.

QG: Has your experience of being raised in Turkey and then moving to Astoria affected your work?

SP: Since I was in high school, every day I dreamt of becoming a film director and a screenwriter, but I was scared. I was always scared of becoming an artist, because making films is based on luck. I said to myself get a degree and you can make your own luck, and with persistence and practice you can become such a good filmmaker that people will have to take notice.

QG: In the synopsis of your film, Butterfly, you say that there is “inherent magic in kindness.” Was there something in particular that inspired you to make that the message of your film?

SP: I just want to say, “Where there is kindness, there is goodness. Where there is goodness, there is magic.” That’s how the story came out.

QG: What are some of your favorite things to do in Queens?

SP: In Queens, bigger does equal better. I like to walk and bike at Astoria Park and Rockaway Beach, one of the my top places for outdoor drinking, swimming and laying out in the sun. I can spend all day at MOMA and MMI. Astoria is my second hometown after Turkey, and I am so happy to live here.

This column was originated in July, 2013 by Nicollette Barsamian.

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