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Chuck Norris vs. Communism


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 people and sparked a revolution.



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The Filmmakers

Ilinca Calugareanu Director

Ilinca Calugareanu is a London-based Romanian documentary filmmaker and editor. She studied filmmaking at Manchester's Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology. Her short films have been screened in festivals around the world. Calugareanu's credits include THE WRITING ON THE WALL (2006, Romania) and ENDGAMES (2008, UK). She has a background in anthropology with a focus on communist and post-communist Romania, which gives her a unique perspective on the story of the VHS phenomenon.


Mara Adina Producer

Mara Adina started her career as a production manager and then line producer at Kuwait National Television (KTV), whilst also producing with several Middle Eastern production companies during her stay there. On her return to the UK, she produced her first feature film, MAKING UGLY (2011). Adina then established Vernon Films, an independent production company based in London. Currently she is in development on a feature film adaptation of DEATH OF A SALARYMAN, by Fiona Campbell, directed by two-time BAFTA-winning director and Golden Bear nominee Adrian Sitaru. She has also released COUNTERPART, the first English-language film by Adrian Sitaru, which opened at Clermont Ferrand International Film Festival 2014 and has secured distribution in Europe, UK, and North America.

Festivals & Awards

Sundance Film Festival


"In the 1980s, under the Nicolae Ceaușescu regime, Romanians suffered from little access to foreign goods as well as an information blackout the Communist bureaucrats used to ensure ideological purity. But in clandestine screenings at neighbors’ homes of smuggled VHS tapes dubbed by a one-man distribution network, people got a glimpse of the Western world and a culture of muscular individuality with heroes like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sylvester Stallone, and, of course, Chuck Norris.

In Chuck Norris vs Communism, one sees the power of film to change individuals and whole societies. Through the stories of the hardworking female dubber (the most famous voice of Romania), the memories of everyday citizens, evocative re-creations of the time, and an enormous selection of clips from '80s movies, first-time director Ilinca Calugareanu presents a film about the unexpected consequences of mass entertainment, leading to the conclusion that the greatest threat to Ceaușescu’s dictatorship might just have been the VCR." —S.S.

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Hot Docs International Film Festival


"In the 1980s, ordinary citizens in communist Romania risked arrest and imprisonment to screen Hollywood blockbusters. Chuck Norris vs Communism uses hilarious film clips and beautifully staged re-enactments to bring to life the stories of these Stallone-loving, dictatorship-toppling movie fans. You’ll meet the young translator who secretly dubbed thousands of foreign films and became an unlikely voice of freedom around the country. You’ll encounter the enigmatic Mr. Zamfir, who ran a tape smuggling network that reached into the highest ranks of the Ceausescu regime. Best of all, you’ll hear the rollicking tales of the countless Romanians whose hopes were lifted by musclebound heroes flying across their televisions. In the skillful hands of director Ilinca Calugareanu, Rocky and Rambo become the unlikely tribunes of an Eastern European revolution. A humble VCR becomes a potent symbol of cinema's power to change how we see the world."- Will Di Novi

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LA Film Festival


Official Selection

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A winning debut doc celebrating Hollywood's cultural impact.”

-The Hollywood Reporter

A warmhearted glimpse into an improbable realm of resistance.”

-Screen Daily

Stylish, breezily entertaining documentary”