Podcast

Bootlegged VHS & The Romanian Revolution

January 17, 2018

Stumbled across a fascinating interview about Romanian icon Irina Margereta Nistoir, whose indirect role helped evolve the Romanian Revolution.

The country felt the impact of being culturally and societally left in the dark, isolated from the rest of the world with Western culture banned during dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s rule. Chuck Norris Vs Communism tells the story of how the banned American films were smuggled into 1980’s Romania during a time where free speech and access to media was controlled by the government.

Irina was a film translator for Romanian State Television, a censorship committee that decided what to broadcast, translating their communist ideologies. The role was never suited to her, so when a colleague asked if she could translate films for a friend, she leapt at the opportunity, risking her freedom by single-handedly dubbing every line of every character in over 3000+ bootlegged movies.

There was a desire to learn about a forbidden society and underground film clubs soon became popular. Watching these films became a matter of survival, and classics such as Rocky and Dirty Dancing eventually became tools for imagination, growth and development.

Truly a remarkable woman whose contribution to film has impacted history and the world over, her iconic voice became a symbol of hope and freedom. The revolutionary role of movie-smuggling helped liberate the people of Romania, and at this year’s SXSW Irina will be discussing how the same could be done for the people of North Korea.

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