Chuck Norris declares war on communism at Sundance
by Stefan Dobroiu
- Ilinca Călugăreanu’s Chuck Norris vs Communism will hit the screen in the World Cinema Documentary Competition
Ilinca Călugăreanu’s Chuck Norris vs Communism [+see also:
film profile] may prove to be one of the most colourful entries in the World Cinema Documentary Competition at Sundance 2015. This UK-Romanian-German co-production explores one of the darkest decades in Romania’s history, the 1980s, when illegal, pirated films on VHS brought entertainment and a feeling of freedom to Romanian households.
The film’s catchy title is somewhat misleading, as it is not Chuck Norris, but rather translator Irina Margareta Nistor who is the true hero of this story. At a time when the Romanian national television station had a daily programme of two hours filled with propaganda, Nistor dubbed approximately 3,000 films with her instantly recognisable voice, introducing Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Jean Claude van Damme to some very eager Romanian audiences.
Director Călugăreanu remembers in a press release how she felt when her parents borrowed a VHS player and invited friends over to watch B-category Hollywood films. “I remember those movies, but I remember better what I felt when I entered the living room. It was like I stepped into a secret, magical, free world.” The 4 Proof Film production includes interviews with local celebrities, journalists and film directors who describe the influence that these pirated films had on their lives during a decade when information was strictly controlled by the communist regime.
The production of the documentary proves that the Romanian National Film Center may be even tougher than communism. Despite its gigantic international potential, the project was ignored by the Center’s commission in 2012, and in 2013 it was disqualified after an article about it was published in The New York Times. The Center opined that this article contravened a very controversial contest rule regarding the total secrecy that must surround the submitted projects.