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American Film Festival

The inaugural American Film Festival will be held in the heritage town of Wroclaw, Poland from October 20 to 24, 2010. It is the first film event in Eastern Europe exclusively devoted to contemporary and classic American cinema.


Introducing AFF Director Roman Gutek


The AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL , the first film event in Eastern Europe completely devoted to classic and contemporary American independent works, will take place from October 20 to 24, 2010 in the historic city of Wroclaw, Poland. The Festival is the brainchild of Roman Gutek, a pioneering distributor who has been the prime mover in bringing world cinema to his native Poland in the past two decades.

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 launched 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 the AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL, a Deauville Film Festival-inspired American film event in the heart of Eastern Europe.

During the Cannes Film Festival, Gutek found time in his hectic schedule is sit with Dorota Hartwich of the CINEUROPA website ( to discuss how his company has been instrumental in bringing European and world cinema to Poland and in growing the local audience interest in international cinema.

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.

Cineuropa: 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.

Gutek: That’s true. But today we have the opportunity, which wasn’t the case in the past, to receive funding which limits the risk: grants from the Polish Film Institute and European programmes like MEDIA, Europa Cinemas and so forth.

Cineuropa: 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?

Gutek: 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.

Cineuropa: Another change: in October 2010, you’re going to launch a new event: the American Film Festival. Where did this idea come from?

Gutek: 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.
For more information on the newly launched AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL, visit the website: or stay tuned to this Festival Dailies site for announcements, interviews and other special events that will be announced in the days to come.
Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Dailies Editor