…or how VHS tapes of Hollywood B-movies, illegally smuggled and duplicated in Romania, provided a nation which faced countless repression from the communist regime with insights into the forbidden West. And eventually started a revolution to lead to freedom. 

The New York Times Op-Docs column recently featured a wonderfully insightful short clip directed by Ilinca Calugareanu – a London-based Romanian documentary filmmaker – about the person who translated over 3.000 films of those illegally distributed VSH tapes, Irina Margareta Nistor. As the short clip very well states, her voice was as well known in communist Romania as that of the dictator. You can read the article and watch the video here.

My parents had a VCR player when I was young. I, too, remember watching Chuck Norris, Silverster Stallone and Jean Claude Van Damme always getting the bad guys, wearing jeans, driving large cars and thinking about how awesome the West looked like in the movies.


The New York Op-Doc video is adapted from an upcoming feature-length documentary, “Chuck Norris vs. Communism.”

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