Chuck Norris vs Communism

Ilinca Calugareanu

Humorous and remarkable documentary about the power of film and the courage of a few subversive Romanian citizens who made an extraordinary contribution to the fall of Ceausescu’s regime. To many Romanians, the voice of Irina Nestor provided an escape from everyday reality. She translated thousands of Hollywood films, which found their way into the living rooms of oppressed citizens by way of the black market and provided them with a window onto a free world. 

Under the Communist, military reign of dictator Ceausescu, Romania had been culturally isolated for decades, imposing extreme censorship. All images from outside the Iron Curtain were banned and the scarce TV programmes only offered Communist propaganda. The climate of fear was fed by the national secret police who punished all suspect behaviour. Yet an unprecedentedly large subversive movement emerged in the 1980s, in which the population turned against the government and its anti-Western ideology. Just by watching movies. A small group of people made it possible for thousands of Hollywood blockbusters to be distributed through the black market. Irina Nistor was one of these people. She did not feel comfortable translating government propaganda and decided to work clandestinely as a translator of Western movies. For many Romanians, her voice became the symbol of freedom and independence. For the first time the public was introduced to the heroics of Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone. But they could also nourish themselves on images of overflowing supermarkets, restaurants, fast cars and the latest in Western fashion. This not only gave the people a glimpse of an alternative life, but also planted the seeds of the revolution which led to the fall of the regime.




Ilinca Calugareanu
Mara Adina
Country of production
Germany, Romania, United Kingdom
81 minutes
Spoken language
Production company
Vernon Films