"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
May 292021


In a locked-down NYC, two priests open their church doors to those seeking salvation during the most isolating of times. From the commonplace to the truly metaphysical, their visitors reflect the full spectrum of personal crises of spirituality. Throughout their encounters with the city’s sweetest, wildest and weirdest, the two priests learn the importance of connection, empathy and open-mindedness. Sometimes a little faith is all you need to make it through the bad times.

From writer/director Onur Tukel (Catfight) and featuring standout performances from Kevin Corrigan (TV’s Ray Donovan, Lost Girls), Max Casella (Applesauce, Inside Llewyn Davis), and Thomas Jay Ryan (Equals, Fay Grim), Scenes from an Empty Church is a uniquely timely and timeless spotlight on the search for life’s meaning, told with Tukel’s trademark wit and wisdom.

Written & Directed by: Onur Tukel
Story by: Onur Tukel and Andrew Shemin
Produced by: Onur Tukel, Jacob Karim, Nora Bode, and Andrew Shemin
Co-Produced by: Celine Dayan-Bonilla
Cast: Kevin Corrigan (TV’s Ray Donovan, Lost Girls) Max Casella (HBO’s Vinyl, Inside Llewyn Davis, Blue Jasmine), Thomas Jay Ryan (Equals, Fay Grim), Paul Reiser (Mad About You, Stranger Things), Natalie Carter (Orange is the New Black), Annie McCain Engman (Westworld), Edward Carnevale (FX’s Pose)
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Genre: Independent, Drama, Comedy
Distributor: MPI Media Group
Run Time: 97 minutes

Director’s Statement from Onur Tukel
Scenes From An Empty Church is a departure from my previous work, which has often been cheerfully dark and cynical. With Covid-19 bringing the world to its knees, making something negative felt both redundant and unnecessary. Instead, I chose to embrace hope and spirituality at a time when the masses (specifically New Yorkers) were fraught with despair.

Though the movie centers around two Catholic priests and their parishioners, the film explores many ideas –organized religion, paganism, nihilism, astral projection, free will, thelink between Judaism and Catholicism. The distinctions between the soul and the corporeal are key themes in the movies. With most people sequestered from their friends and love ones during the pandemic, we’ve come to understand the importance of bodies and the flesh, being in the same room with someone, and looking them in the eyes. We can’t discount the importance of that thing inside of us, whatever it is -soul, mind, inner being -but without a body, does it have substance?

The movie’s darker half questions some of the contradictions of salvation. Is anyone worthy of God’s grace? If so, isn’t there something sinister about that? Is the child abuser who takes Jesus as his savior more deserving of God’s grace than an atheist who has led an exemplary life?

Scenes From An Empty Church is about searching for meaning in an uncertain world. It celebrates our beliefs and fears, and most importantly, our need for connection.

 Posted by on May 29, 2021  Add comments

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