SECTION World Cinema Documentary Competition
COUNTRY United Kingdom/Romania/Germany
RUN TIME 83 min
SUBTITLES Yes with English subtitles
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.
The 414s: The Original Teenage Hackers—In 1983, a group of Milwaukee teenagers gained notoriety when they broke into dozens of high-profile computer systems. The ensuing media frenzy terrified a nation previously ignorant of the capabilities of computer interconnectivity.
COMPANY Vernon films