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Roman Gutek • Distributor

Different faces of cinema

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Roman Gutek  • Distributor

Roman Gutek has worked as a committed distributor of auteur films in Poland for almost 20 years. He founded Gutek Film in 1994 and in 2001 created the Era New Horizons Festival, which has become the most important film event in Poland. Also managing director of the Muranow arthouse cinema in Warsaw (named Best Cinema of the Europa Cinemas Network in 2004), Gutek is spearheading another breakthrough with the launch in October of a new initiative in Wroclaw: the American Film Festival.

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Cineuropa: From the end of the 1980s, while distribution was still a monopoly in Poland, at the Warsaw festival you programmed films by directors unknown in your country. Over the following years, you gave Polish audiences the chance to discover Almodóvar, Wenders, Jarman, Jarmusch, von Trier and many others. Is your work today at Gutek Film easier or more difficult than it was at that time?
Roman Gutek: As you’ve pointed out, I’m loyal to auteur cinema. My name and that of the company are very much associated with this type of cinema. Since Gutek Film was set up in 1994, we’ve distributed around 300 films and attracted nine million viewers. I must admit I feel some satisfaction at this because we’ve managed to win the confidence of audiences.

Obviously the work is very different today. At that time, there was a wider audience and the current number of viewers for this type of film has fallen by at least 50%. In the past, there were fewer titles, but they “stayed alive” longer on screens, unlike nowadays where films have very short theatrical runs. On the other hand, the financial risk is much lower for us today: we have more economic security.

And yet, whereas in the past you had no competitors, on the Polish market there are now distributors developing in the same niche as you (Vivarto, Manana...).
Polish Film Institute and European programmes like MEDIA, Europa Cinemas and so forth.

You set up the biggest film festival in Poland: Era News Horizons (whose 10th edition will be held in July in Wrocław). You’ve said that this event takes up much more of your time than your job as a distributor. Why are you moving away from distribution?
If I devote 10% of my time to Gutek Film and 90% to the ENH festival, it’s because the company doesn’t really need me anymore. iIt functions well thanks to the very efficient people who work there. As for me, since I’m determined not to fall into a routine, I try to change my professional life about every 10 years.

Another change: in October 2010, you’re going to launch a new event: the American Film Festival. Where did this idea come from?
Polish theatres are dominated by American fare, but only productions from the big US industry, which are commercial and mainly distributed by major studios. Polish audiences thus don’t get the chance to see good titles like American auteur films.

The festival programme also includes an educational section. Alongside recent productions, we’ll present classic films: retrospectives of directors, actors, genre cinema, etc. But once again our main aim, like when I started out in this profession, is to introduce Polish viewers to the new phenomena and new faces of cinema.

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