Roman Gutek • Distributor
"Films come and go in a flash"
- Roman Gutek • Distributor "Films come and go in a flash"
Roman Gutek founded the Warsaw Film Festival in 1985, and directed it until 1992. In the 1990s, he began to get involved in distribution, first with the Foundation for Cinematographic Art and then with Gutek Film. It is thanks to Gutek that the films of Greenaway, Wenders, Jarman were made known in Poland. Roman Gutek is also director of Muranów, a Warsaw cinema that specialises in auteur films and was voted the best cinema in the Europa Cinemas network in 2004. Since 2001, he has also organised the ERA Nowe Horyzonty film festival.
Cineuropa: Since the beginning of your career, you have been very consistent in your choices, even when the conditions haven’t always been that positive. How do you work?
Roman Gutek: When I started out in cinema, the industry was still a state monopoly. This is why I wanted to show audiences what they were missing out on. Often we only had one or two showings, in one or two theatres. I dreamt back then of being able to show good films to the wider public. From the 1980s and even more so since Gutek Films was set up, this has become possible. We distributed films from Jarmusch, von Trier, Almodovar and so on. The film that I am going to screen has to interest me in terms of its subject and form. I try to transfer this frame of mind to everyone I work with, by encouraging them to go and see something other than a marketing product at the cinema, to get involved personally in a film. I am sure that with such an attitude it is easier to attract the media and "infect" the public.
You are one of the first entrepreneurs in cinema to take advantage of the EU funding mechanisms. Are these an important source of funding for you?
We have received funding from the Media Plus programme and our cinema Muranów in Warsaw has been a member of EuropaCinemas since the start, in 1993. We receive funding for the programming but also for our educational activities. The amounts of subsidies are not very high when compared to the overall film budget but it does help us to reduce the ever-present risk that is posed when it is auteur cinema. Participation in the Europa Cinemas network is not only important from a financial point of view; I am also pleased that – by participating in this type of community of 700 cinemas in Europe – we are achieving the same objective, which is to promote good films.
There are many European and international films in your programme. Why in this international collection are there so few Polish films?
The vast majority of Polish films are produced with the support of television channels, especially public television which – as a logical result of contracts signed – are reserved broadcasting rights on Polish television. Moreover, producers request that we invest a minimum amount from the production stage onwards.
One of the most serious problems at the moment in Poland is a tendency to close down small cinemas. How is it possible to find a solution to this phenomenon?
The problem lies in the lack of exhibition of films. Even if a good film is screened in a small regional cinema, it is often just for a few days. Films come and go in a flash. This is why, as a member of the board of the Polish Film Institute, I think that the issue of supporting small theatres is a priority. But what is lacking the most is interest from the local authorities who manage the theatres. It is not only the programming that has to be funded; theatres also need new facilities. Today’s filmgoer looks for comfort, and if he doesn’t get it, he’ll turn his back on cinema.
Why doesn’t Polish cinema sell in Europe? Let’s take the example of My Nikifor by Krzysztof Krauze – the film won 13 international awards, yet it didn’t make it to mainstream European cinemas.
The major question here is that the profession of sales agent is very rare in Poland. I often have the chance to observe promotion mechanisms used in Western countries and compare them with our own – and they are incomparable. What we need is a strategy and a serious budget. I hope that the effort of the Polish Film Institute – who has also recently become a member of European Film Promotion – will be effective at this level.
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