Chuck Norris vs Communism ***

  

UK, Germany, Romania/ Director Ilinca Calugareanu/ 82mins

 

Synopsis: In 1980s Romania, thousands of Western films were made available through a black-market VHS racketeer. With the assistance of a courageous female translator, they brought the magic of film to the people and sparked a revolution.

 

Romania was under the Communist regiment of Nicolae Ceausescu. All of the media was strictly controlled by the secret police, who used intimidation and violence. Entertainment was censored before being broadcast to citizens.

 

Then VHS tapes and VCRs appeared on the scene with films from the West being made available via a black-market ring led by a mysterious figure, Teodor Zamfir. In towns and villages secret underground parties would happen so people could watch the best and worst of Hollywood. From Sylvester Stallone to Jean-Claude Van Damme to Chuck Norris of course.

 

The film comprises of archive and film footage, reenactments and interviews with the people who attended these parties along with the entrepreneur Teodor Zamfir and his dub artist Irina Nistor who translated around 3,000 films.

 

Overall the material is extensively researched and the viewpoints from the individuals are interesting. However at the midway point these become incredibly repetitive, during the focus on the actual parties.

 

The most interesting aspect is the details about Zamfir’s organisation and how Nistor thought she would be caught by the Secret Police at anytime.

 

A fascinating and educational piece shows how the power of images can encourage people to take stand.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

  

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