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Chuck Norris vs. Communism (2015)

In the oppressive 1980s communist Romania, the smuggled VHS tapes of banned Hollywood films become an inspirational ray of hope. A hybrid feature about the magic of film and the power it has to change lives.

Director:

Ilinca Calugareanu
Reviews
1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Irina Margareta Nistor ... Self (as Irina Nistor)
Teodor Zamfir Teodor Zamfir ... Self
Mircea Cojocaru Mircea Cojocaru ... Self
Vlad Craioveanu Vlad Craioveanu ... Self
Mihai Dobrovolschi Mihai Dobrovolschi ... Self
Adrian Sitaru ... Self
Paul Stefanescu Paul Stefanescu ... Self
Alexandru Eremia Alexandru Eremia ... Self
Dan Alexandru Dan Alexandru ... Self
Mihnea Mihalache-Fiastru Mihnea Mihalache-Fiastru ... Self
Mariana Comanaru Mariana Comanaru ... Self
Voichita Toader Voichita Toader ... Self
Tudor Caranfil Tudor Caranfil ... Self
Marius Lazar Marius Lazar ... Self
Constantin Fugasin Constantin Fugasin ... Self
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Storyline

In 1980s Romania, thousands of Western films smashed through the Iron Curtain opening a window into the free world for those who dared to look. A black market VHS racketeer and a courageous female translator brought the magic of film to the masses and sowed the seeds of a revolution.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The VHS revolution that brought down a Communist government!


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tom Hanks recommended on his official Facebook page to watch Chuck Norris vs. Communism (2015). He wrote: "See this documentary! The power of film! To change the world." [1st June 2016] See more »

Connections

Features Purple Rain (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

Pasiunea
written & performed by Margareta Pîslaru
from Bucuria de a Canta, 2008
Fundatia Radio Romania, Editura Casa Radio
See more »

User Reviews

 
A Nostalgia Soufflé
22 July 2015 | by tributarystuSee all my reviews

In spite of being born towards the end of the 80s, I recall several "Margareta Nistor movies", her trademark dubbing scarring my youth alongside the zombies of Return of the Living Dead. It's funny, particularly because her often inflection-less voice made the humor of the movie much harder to understand at the time. Then again, maybe that had more to do with me being less than a decade old myself and thinking I might be immune to the undead.

At its heart, CNvsC is a film about the passion of movies. During communist Romania, in the especially dire last ten years of Ceausescu's reign, an illicit business venture involving the dubbing, copying and distributing of Western cinema spawned and spread like wildfire in what became a cultural landmark of the times. Rocky, Missing in Action, Once Upon a Time in America, Bloodsport, Dirty Dancing are just some of the many movies featured. Using current day interviews with both the protagonists of the movement (foremost Mrs. Nistor as the "localization" specialist, Mr. Zamfir as the ambivalent VHS peddler) and Romanian personalities, as well as laborious reenactments of key events, director Calugareanu portrays the dichotomous fear/love relationship of treading the anti-establishment line. At its best, the film is humorous and playful, insightful with a dark edge in exploring the oppressive machinations behind the scenes. While hyperbolizing, it sets itself up as a thoroughly enjoyable ode to a movement that played a part in empowering the Romanian people.

But the causation is forced and based on weak evidence. The urge to make such a powerful claim and even the attempts of dramatizing certain events play against what CNvsC is really strong at: highlighting the cultural impact and the adventurous affairs surrounding a seemingly banal act of translation. What it fails to do is look beyond the immediate effects of the whole process and the romance of movies as an escape from the everyday. Questions like how the exposure to a fairly homogeneous body of films affected Romanians' world-view, especially given that most of the films were not quite paragons of Western film-making, is not tackled. Nor is the matter of how the practice of what essentially is piracy contributed to a certain cultural acceptance of digital duplication in decades to come, as seen across the Eastern block. At the screening, Nistor mentioned that she had met her counter-parts from Estonia or Russia, who were different to her only in that they were all men.

So, while on the one hand the documentary works as a look into a pretty special phenomenon, it is frustrating that it avoids going deeper into either the social ramifications, or further exploring the more personal experiences of the likes of Mrs. Nistor to let the local interpretations take hold of an otherwise too descriptive approach - aimed to a more universal audience, with little knowledge of Romanian oddities.


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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

UK | Romania | USA

Language:

Romanian

Release Date:

12 November 2015 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Chuck Norris Contra o Comunismo See more »

Filming Locations:

Romania See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$850,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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