Roman Polanski’s First International Producer Publishes Memoir

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Producer Gene Gutowski shares powerful life story chronicling inspirational journey to success.

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Polanski credits Gutowski with much of his success. “Gene is one of the most important figures in my existence… I am profoundly grateful that he launched my international career.”

Written by a talented artist and raconteur with a mischievous sense of humor, “With Balls and Chutzpah: A Story of Survival” (published by iUniverse) displays resourceful Hollywood producer Gene Gutowski’s success, whether staying alive or building a reputation as a an industry-leading film producer.

Yesterday, Roman Polanski accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 Zurich Film Festival, while the Museum of Modern Art hosts a Polanski retrospective in September. Who is the man behind Roman Polanski’s international fame? Gene Gutowski.

Polanski credits Gutowski with much of his success. “Gene is one of the most important figures in my existence… I am profoundly grateful that he launched my international career.”

Gutowski says, “[Polanski] was the king and I was the kingmaker and there were other Polish directors and writers who hoped that with our help they too could follow in Roman’s footsteps. This, of course, was not true.” He continues, “His talent, brilliance, and ability to make world-class films was unique and while some have tried, none to this day have reached the same pinnacle of excellence and recognition as Roman.”

Born to a privileged, ancestrally Jewish family in Poland, every member of Gutowski’s immediate family was killed as a direct result of Nazi occupation. At the war’s end in May 1945, after evading the SS, Gutowski found himself also outrunning the Russians on the way to freedom. Exhausted, he collapsed at an American soldier’s feet. Speaking fluent German, Russian, Polish and English, he was quickly enlisted and put to work tracking former Nazis and war criminals with the US Army Counter Intelligence Corp. In 1947 he moved to New York where he found work as a fashion illustrator and film producer.

Moving on to London, Gutowski contacted fellow Pole Roman Polanski after viewing “Knife in the Water,” which Polanski directed. The two formed a creative partnership resulting in the classic films “Repulsion,” “Cul-de-Sac” and “The Fearless Vampire Killers.”

Later the two, both previously Polish Jews alone in Nazi-occupied Poland, shared a cathartic experience making “The Pianist” and obtained the ultimate success of an Oscar-winning film. Gutowski, co-producer, and Polanski, director, confirmed details from their own memories.

About the Author
Film producer Gene Gutowski was born in Poland in 1925 and, after escaping Nazi concentration camps in WWII, moved to New York with his wife in 1947. He produced many classic films, and “The Pianist,” which he co-produced, won three Academy Awards. Gene has three grown sons and four grandchildren. He currently resides in Warsaw with his partner of ten years, Asia Smaga.

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