Chuck Norris vs. Communism (2015) - full transcript

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 masses and sowed the seeds of a revolution.

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(IN ROMANIAN)
I was young, about eight years old.

And someone said,
"Let's go to a video night!"

(MOVIE PLAYING ON TV)

It was thrilling

watching a foreign film
for the first time.

Almost illegal,
because they weren't allowed.

At least I felt that we were watching
things we shouldn't see.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

Mum wouldn't let me watch that film.

It was considered...



-Too erotic?
-Yes, yes.

-"Why is he doing that to her skirt?"
-(LAUGHING)

"What's that? Look at her?"

Once Upon a Time in America
with Robert De Niro.

Pretty Woman.

The Protector.

Nine and a Half Weeks.

(MUSIC PLAYING ON TV)

(IN ENGLISH)
"Goose, Goose I'm on your tail."

(IN ROMANIAN)
Top Gun, wait a minute, Top Gun!

Seriously, I saw it 38 times.

(TV PLAYING)

I remember my first film.

It was Last Tango in Paris
with Marlon Brando.



It was like being hit over the head!

I didn't imagine
a film like that could exist.

(WOMAN DUBBING IN ROMANIAN)

(WOMAN DUBBING IN ROMANIAN)

(CHUCKLING) I felt like
I was struck by lightning!

And what a film to start with!

That's when I realized how
far behind the West we were.

(SPEAKING ROMANIAN)

NICOLAE CEAUSESCU
ROMANIA'S DICTATOR 1965-1983

In Romania
capitalism has lived its last day.

The people are the true masters

and will remain masters

of their destiny
and the riches of the country.

(PEOPLE CHEERING AND APPLAUDING)

Television went from two channels to one,

with only two hours of TV a day.

(REPORTER SPEAKING IN ROMANIAN)

Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu's report.

A brilliant contribution
to economic and social life

is the focus for the whole country.

To deny 20 million people
access to information

and to keep a whole country in ignorance
for years

has very serious consequences.

(CROWD CHANTING)

There were no films,
but we were hungry for cinema.

Then VHS films appeared,
"video" as we called it.

It felt amazing to do something illegal
during Communism, something not communist,

watching imperialist movies.

(TIRES SCREECHING)

They were all dubbed by the same voice

and that was the voice of Irina Nistor.

The whole country knew her voice,
but no one knew what she looked like.

(IN ENGLISH)
Kiss me.

(NISTOR DUBBING IN ROMANIAN)
Kiss me.

But you're sticky.

So what?

It's the most well known voice
in Romania after Ceausescu's.

(NISTOR DUBBING IN ROMANIAN)
When I say, yes?

(IN ENGLISH)
All right, now.

Now.

Easy.

I really wanted to know
what she looked like.

I didn't think she had a body.

She was pure consciousness.

-She was the voice.
-Yes, the voice.

(IN ENGLISH)
You work on commission, right?

(NISTOR DUBBING IN ROMANIAN)
You work on commission, right?

Yes.

Big mistake!

Big mistake!

Huge!

She was an entity. (CHUCKLES)

I imagined her dubbing films
in her kitchen, making soup.

Yeah, because you could hear noises.

A brunette with long hair
and really strong.

I always had a feeling
that she was blonde.

Very beautiful.
She has this warm, soft voice.

That's how I saw her...

A feline, a model.

That's how I imagined Irina Nistor.

Incredibly beautiful.

Divine.

Like a voice from a choir of angels.

(ELEVATOR BELL DINGS)

NISTOR: In the '80s,

I was working as a film translator
for the State Television.

THE VOICE OF IRINA NISTOR

I didn't fit in there.

I didn't like it as sometimes

I had to translate
for the Censorship Committee.

They decided what to broadcast
and what to cut.

NISTOR: (TRANSLATING)
New Jersey, three months earlier.

Mum, I don't want to go to school,
Mrs. Wardrobe is impossible.

I don't want to discuss this.

No, cut this.

(TRANSLATING) Mum, we'll be late.

Stop!

Too much food.

Products, look, look!

What's the message?

That the West is a land of prosperity?

I don't think so.

So we're cutting this?

Of course we are.

(SPEAKING ROMANIAN)

To start with, I managed to find a TV.

I paid 20,000 LEI for it.

It was a Sharp TV made in Japan.

The second step
was getting a video player.

(DOOR OPENING)

A video player cost as much as a car.

It was the equivalent of a new car.

55,000 LEI.

-We started around 1985.
-Yes.

When your husband went to Germany
and he brought a video player.

You couldn't buy a video player
in our shops.

BARBU: They came in the evening,
around 20 people at first.

Then it grew as word spread
that I was screening films.

By the morning I'd have around 3,000 LEI,
and a monthly salary was 2,000 LEI.

-Barbu's throwing a video night.
-What's he showing?

Something with Chuck Norris.

-What time?
-8:00.

I'll go tell the others.

-We'd talk like this...
-Yes, let's see a film.

At street corners, whispering.

"Hey, can you make it?"

-Evening. Barbu's showing films tonight.
-Yes?

-When?
-8:00.

-How's your mum?
-Good, thanks.

There's a video night at Barbu's tonight.

Come to Barbu's,
he's showing films tonight.

Chuck Norris, action films.

8:00, at Barbu's.

So the first film I saw

was...

(CLOCK TICKING)

In a small apartment.

It smelled of damp, but it didn't matter.

A clock,
somewhere in the hallway, ticking.

What are you doing here, Bogdan?

I'm here for the screening.

-You got money?
-I do.

C'mon.

BARBU: People wanted to know.

To know a society that was forbidden.

I think we were all breathing
at the same time.

(TV PLAYING)

And when the film started,

we were all savoring each image.

Even that jingle
at the beginning of the film.

(NISTOR DUBBING)
Lone Wolf McQuade.

Chuck Norris gets a terrible beating.

And they lock him in his car.

A digger makes a hole.

And they push him in the hole
with the car,

and cover him.

Then...

He wakes up, obviously.

And says,

"I've got to get out of here."

No panic.

No anger.

He was in control.

I thought it was real.

I see myself, mouth wide open.

Eyes peeled.

It's okay, we'll make it.

Of course I can do it!

You can do it!

And he started the car.

(IN ENGLISH)
Ranger! You son of a bitch!

(IN ROMANIAN)
And he got out!

ROMANIA'S TV STATION

MAN: Comrade Nistor.

Comrade Nistor.

-Can I take two minutes of your time?
-Yes.

NISTOR: One day I was at work
and a colleague approached me.

A comrade is looking for a collaborator.

He has these films,

and he needs someone talented
like you to translate them.

NISTOR: I couldn't believe he was
talking to me where anyone could hear us.

What films?

New ones.

NISTOR: He mentioned American films

and VHS tapes, of course
I was immediately intrigued.

It was my only chance to see these movies,

even if I knew there were risks.

MARIUS: The regime was becoming
more suspicious and afraid of sabotage.

So they were using fear,
the psychosis of surveillance.

Which made people both anxious of their
own behavior and suspicious of others.

And made them inform on one another.

Come in.

NISTOR: I was taken down to the basement,

which I thought was strange.

(DOOR CLOSING)

Good evening.

Good evening.

I'm Mr. Zamfir, you must be Irina Nistor.
Delighted to meet you.

Sit down please.

NISTOR: He gave me a test,
I had to dub Doctor Zhivago.

Please put your headphones on.

Are you the poet?

Yes.

I used to admire your poetry.

Thank you.

I shouldn't admire it anymore.

I should consider it absurdly personal.

Right?

(IN ENGLISH) Insights, affections.
It's suddenly trivial, now.

(NISTOR TRANSLATING IN ROMANIAN)

You don't agree. You're wrong.

The personal life is dead in Russia.

History has killed it.

(IN ROMANIAN)
Continue.

NISTOR: He seemed stern and very
pragmatic, he knew exactly what he wanted.

And it had to be done really quickly,
so he could make a decision.

I had no idea how long it was to last,
if it was for one film or for more.

I didn't know.

What would you like to be paid?

NISTOR: We started to negotiate
and I asked for 100 LEI.

That was the price of a smuggled
bar of Austrian chocolate.

And he said, "No worries,
I'll give you 200!"

MAN: The future belongs
to socialism, communism.

To a world without imperialists
and capitalists.

TV was as terrible as the food
you could find.

Everyone spoke about the same things.

The neverending queues and having nothing.

The struggle to get things.

Everything was rationed, but not by us.

It came from above.

And whether we liked it or not,

we had to dance to their tune.

MAN: Raising the revolutionary,
socialist awareness...

We wouldn't talk publicly about
the amazing films we saw,

because you never knew who sat
next to you and could turn you in.

(TV PLAYING)

OVIDIU: It was underground.

Because we could watch something other
than what we could see on TV.

Because TV was just propaganda.

So even if we were watching films
with explosions and fights,

it wasn't "their" propaganda.

(TV PLAYING)

Action films were fundamental for us boys.

Chuck Norris films.

Van Damme films.

Like Bloodsport, where Frank Dux
and Chong Li have an amazing fight.

(GRUNTING)

And I think we learned a lot,
Rambo was fighting bad men.

Chuck Norris went to save his friends,
risking a rat on his head.

The films changed
your perspective on life.

You developed through films.

In Rocky I, he'd wake up at 5:00 a.m.

He put on that shabby old tracksuit.

(TV PLAYING)

And he'd go for a run.

And little me, who wanted
to become big and strong.

-I set my alarm for 5:00.
-(ALL CHUCKLING)

(CHUCKLING) I'm not kidding!

I mixed the eggs,
God it was awful, but I drank it.

I got dressed like him, took two weights
in my hands and went for it.

MIHNEA: There was a freshness and novelty
that influenced you in so many ways.

Clothes, attitudes, gestures...

We all wanted Rambo's knife with
the needle and thread and all.

There was a whole life
in the video player.

CLOSE TO THE BORDER BETWEEN
HUNGARY AND ROMANIA

We were watching illegally copied films.

They were smuggled in and it
was illegal to watch them.

I don't know where they came from.

There was a group of people who did this.

I don't know how they got the tapes.
People said they were coming on boats.

THE VOICE OF TEODOR ZAMFIR

I would go and bring in new films
two to three times a year.

You need courage to get in a car

and drive to get films
from an unknown world.

(MEN CONVERSING IN ROMANIAN)

Open the trunk.

ZAMFIR: Take this.

Get lost!

ZAMFIR: I had an arrangement
with the border patrol,

like with cigarette and drug trafficking.

Not for one moment did I imagine
how big this would become.

No, there's no point to discuss this one.

Look at all the meat!

Next one.

NISTOR: It was another endless meeting.

We were watching an episode
of Nu, Pogodi!

A Russian animation.

(MAN CHUCKLING)

MAN 2: Wait, stop!

-Rewind that bunny.
-(TAPE WHIRRING)

What happened?

MAN 2: Stop!

Look, three balloons,
red, yellow and blue.

NISTOR: Unfortunately the bunny
was carrying three balloons,

the colors of the Romanian flag.

(DISCUSSING IN ROMANIAN)

NISTOR: It had to disappear
because it looked like

the Russians were controlling Romania.

What example are we setting
for our children?

Think of the message.

We're cutting it.

NISTOR: It was absurd.

NISTOR: For Zamfir
I wasn't required to censor anything.

I could say "priest,"

"stinking communist,"

"Easter,"

"God."

I could name any saint.

"Santa Claus."

It was a way to be free
and to spite the regime.

It was a way to win a battle.

However small it seems,
it made a difference.

She would never translate swear words.

Or anything connected to sex.

People swore quite a bit
and we'd hear "Holy moly."

Motherfucker.

And she'd say, "Go to hell."

The dirty words were translated as
"Go to hell."

-"To hell," yes, yes.
-That's what she said.

-No matter what crap they were saying...
-And also "Get lost."

Fuck you.

"Get lost."

Fuck you, man.

(MIMICKING NISTOR)
"Go to hell" or "Get lost."

He tells her,

(IN ENGLISH)
"You know what I realized,

"I love you, I need you
and damn, I wanna fuck you."

(IN ROMANIAN)
Irina Nistor says...

(MIMICKING NISTOR)
"I was thinking, I love you, I need you,

"and you know what, go to hell!"

(CHUCKLING)

(SPEAKING SPANISH)

Fuck you.

(NISTOR DUBBING) Go to hell!

Stick your cock up her ass,
you motherfucking...

(NISTOR DUBBING) You moron!

You fat piece of shit.

(NISTOR DUBBING) Get out
of my sight, you bacon fat!

Get lost!

You all are bunch of fucking assholes.

(NISTOR DUBBING) You're all idiots.

You know why?

(ELEVATOR BELL DINGS)

NISTOR: There was a secret police agent
in the TV station, Comrade Orzan.

We'd often meet in the lift,

and each time he'd say...

ORZAN: I heard you last night.

NISTOR: My stomach was tied in a knot.

Is he going to bring me in?
What film did he see?

The one where I said "stinking communist"?

It was the perfect way to keep me
on a knife's edge.

DANIEL: We did everything without
the authorities' approval.

It was all done quietly, underground.

My parents told me not to talk
about our video player in school.

They said it's better that it should
remain a secret, but didn't explain why.

We all felt
we had to keep it a secret, obscure,

and not talk about it.

ZAMFIR: Everything was under surveillance
and controlled.

They knew everything, every step you made.

NISTOR: Zamfir suspected everybody
of being in the secret police.

He asked me every day, "Are you
sure you're not one of them?"

ZAMFIR: Irina Nistor was
definitely connected or had access

to the secret services.

I never doubted that,

because of the confidence and courage
she displayed when dubbing.

She was translating, listening, talking,

and she understood everything!

She would have made a great spy.
She could have finished me.

(CLICKS BUTTON)

NISTOR: I also suspected him.

He had that way about him,
the cold politeness

that they had.

They're my horses, bastards!

Policemen!

NISTOR: One night Zamfir drove me home.

(SIRENS WAILING)

(NISTOR SPEAKING ROMANIAN)

NISTOR: And something happened

which made me almost certain that
he was in the secret police.

ZAMFIR: How dare you stop me!

I am Colonel Zamfir.

Salute me.

OFFICER: Yes, sir.

NISTOR: So the policeman
backed off in silence.

And I froze and kept my mouth shut.

And when he got back
into the car he said...

Why are you smiling?

NISTOR: To be honest, I didn't want to
know if Zamfir was in the secret police.

ZAMFIR: I took advantage.

It happened a few times.

But I could never have been a colonel.

Come on, a beat officer, I could've
told him anything and he'd buy it.

I had special license plates,
always wore a suit and tie.

Also my age helped, so yes.

I took advantage and I lied.

NEWSCASTER: Esteemed viewers.

Today, in the Palace Hall of the
Romanian Socialist Republic,

the National Conference of the Romanian
Communist Party has begun,

a highly important and significant moment
for the party and the country.

Romania was closed at the time,
people weren't allowed passports.

Every year things deteriorated,
the political pressure intensified.

The divide between the regime
and the people was growing.

The regime was afraid of people
coming together spontaneously

because it was out of their control.

And people could talk about anything.

There's this joke,
there's a guy on the bus

with a bag and he keeps rustling it.

People say, "What have you got there?"
He says "Mice."

"What are you doing?" (CHUCKLING)
"I'm not letting them organize."

(TV PLAYING)

Video nights were

the one thing that helped us

survive.

MARIUS: As teenagers...

As teenagers everything we knew about
pop culture came from films.

You'd stop following the film because
you were so impressed by the houses,

by the shops packed with
food and sweets, wow!

(TV PLAYING)

Just the fact that you could see
a car that you'd never find here.

There was no way a Lamborghini
would ever get into Romania.

(TV PLAYING)

Women would also watch films to
see the latest western fashions

because we didn't have any
TV shows about fashion.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

MAN: (ON TV, IN ENGLISH)
Who is that girl?

(IN ROMANIAN)
Not being allowed to leave the country,

we were hungry for films that took place

in New York or in Acapulco,

like the Elvis films.

Or in Paris.

We craved them
and marvelled at the landscape

and streets, rather than the action.

(IN ENGLISH) And finally you die
one of those New York deaths,

where nobody notices for two weeks,
until the smell drifts into the hallway.

SALLY: Amanda mentioned
you had a dark side.

HARRY: That's the truth.

SALLY: Your dark side?

Yes, Jerry knows I'm calling,
he knows what's it about.

Sure, sure, sure.

(IN ROMANIAN)
I was astonished,

"Look at the apartments
Americans have, incredible!"

"Look how big their cars are,
the streets!"

It was a window into the West from which
I could see what the free world was like.

(TV PLAYING)

OFFICER: Police! What are you doing here?

BARBU: One Thursday
night eight policemen came.

They started to scream and yell.

"No one leaves!
We're arresting you! We'll..."

OFFICER: C'mon!

What's this, Comrade?

I was watching a film with some friends.

A film? Is this a video screening?
Did you take some money tonight?

No, but what's the problem?

What's the problem?

We're taking the VCR, Comrade Barbu,
that's the problem.

I said, "Okay,
but do you have a search warrant?"

And they were like, "Listen to this guy,
he wants a search warrant.

"Okay, we'll get one in half an hour,

"and then we'll rip your home apart."

BARBU: They could
also press criminal charges

and sentence you
to one or two years in jail.

In my case they took the VCR and 30 tapes.

People who had VCRs
in 1987 suffered a lot of injustice.

NISTOR: One evening he simply appeared.

I didn't know who he was,
where he came from.

All I knew was that he was very polite.

-And you are?
-Mircea.

I was recommended.

Are you usually late?

No, I'm really sorry,
it won't happen again.

ZAMFIR: Are they ready?

Yes.

Here they are.

He's our new translator.

-Good evening.
-Comrade Nistor, it's an honor.

You will have different schedules,
so you won't meet often.

This is the dubbing table.
I leave tapes there.

The lists are there.

Yes?

I understand.

Good, follow me.

NISTOR: He was a character
that I completely ignored.

He didn't interest me.
He was the competition.

And I don't interact with people,
I don't feel the need.

MIRCEA CONJDGARU: You need
to understand that I was there

THE VOICE OF MIRCEA CONJDGARU

to be Mrs. Irina's equivalent.

Quite a hard task!

There were very few tapes
dubbed by someone else.

So we'd all be like,
"Wait a minute, this is not an original."

(CHUCKLING) Yes, yes.

"This is a fake, bring me the original!"

There were other voices.
There was a guy...

I am Michael Knight.

David told me to come here.

My wife, Terry.

I don't remember the other person.

I do and I didn't like it.
I couldn't enjoy the film.

Seriously, it felt like
something was missing.

-I only remember Irina Nistor.
-There was someone else!

Should I tell you something?

What?

I'd miss Irina.

We'd reject a different voice,
"I don't want this, we've been conned."

(CHUCKLING) Irina's
voice was the original.

MAN: (IN ENGLISH) First there was
a collapse of civilization.

(NISTOR DUBBING IN ROMANIAN) First there
was a true collapse of civilization.

And then genocide.

We'd watch four or five films a night.

Around 5:00 a.m. we'd all be confused.

You wouldn't remember
what you saw exactly.

Wait a second,
was this in Rambo 2 or Rambo 4?

When did he sew his wound?

And the explosion...
Wait, he wasn't in Vietnam anymore.

Nobody knew anymore.

The girl the husband wants to kill...

She had a twin sister and...

She's thrown to the crocodiles...

And she comes back disfigured.

My mum and her friend were crying.

(WOMAN SCREAMING)

SILVU: The copies were so bad,

that many times we had to
imagine what was on screen.

Copied over and over but not from
a master, so the quality was appalling.

You'd think the VCR was broken,
but it was the faulty tapes.

(IN ENGLISH)
What is your name?

(IN ROMANIAN)
Within 24 hours,

the films had entered Romania,
were translated, multiplied,

and then sold throughout the country.

Then smaller local dealers would take
over, copy them again and again.

And they'd reach us
in a very poor condition.

ZAMFIR: We're making a small change.

The price will now be double.

-Why?
-It's double. New films, better quality...

Look at the tapes.

BOGDAN: Slowly it grew, but that would
be an understatement.

"Lieutenants" from all the big cities
came to get tapes.

ZAMFIR: I knew that every Monday I could
come to Bucharest and get tapes.

And I would distribute them

to towns in Transylvania.

Evening, Mr. Zamfir.

-All good?
-Yes.

ZAMFIR: And for me it was great business.

The average monthly income was 2,000,
and I made 500 a night.

MAN: See you next week.
ZAMFIR: Yes, goodbye.

BOGDAN: So the network spread from A to Z.

Everybody making a bit of money.

Risky money,
because no laws sanctioned it.

Mr. Zamfir started with a few VCRs.

By the end he had 360 VCRs.

A tape was 1,000 LEI.

And every three hours he'd make
300 tapes, 300,000 LEI. (CHUCKLES)

The value of a house!

Nobody could have done this
except for Mr. Zamfir.

Nobody!

-Sit down!
-But...

Sit down!

NISTOR: Zamfir's house
was an exclusively male space.

And the people who came there

to buy tapes and talk about
God knows what, were all men.

I didn't talk to them, I didn't
want to know their names.

I had no idea what Zamfir's first name
was, nor Mircea's surname.

I did my own thing.
I went there, I dubbed, I left.

-Hi, you have the tape?
-Yes.

Thanks, bye!

I got the film.

What film?

Missing in Action, Chuck Norris.

Missing in Action with Chuck Norris.

(TV PLAYING)

(SQUEAKING)

These Americans were being held
hostage by the Vietnamese...

I saw it.

He's captured by the...

"Gooks."

-I think that's what Irina said.
-Yeah, the Gooks.

-(MIMICKING NISTOR) "Bloody Gook!"
-(SNICKERS)

And to torture him,
they put a sack over his head

with a rat in it.

Big mistake!

(GRUNTING)

They expected he'd be eaten by the rat.

They took it off...

He ate it.

Norris had the rat in his mouth.

Well, he didn't really eat it, he bit it.

The rat was dead and
he spits it out. (SPITS)

Chuck Norris spits out the rat.

And it was that whole thing
of ultimate survival.

(IN ENGLISH)
This is from me.

(IN ROMANIAN)
After the film ended...

Let's see what you've got.

Come on then, I'll destroy you.

BOGDAN: The street wasn't just a street,
a rock not just a rock.

They were challenges.

Come on.

Bring it on.

BOGDAN: We started to play
in a disciplined manner.

We started to want to be...

Heroes.

(TAPE WHIRRS)

I screened the film Nero in my flat.

(PEOPLE CLAMORING ON TV)

I couldn't help myself and I
made a few comments,

and even my aunt, who was very old,

said "Look, he's like Ceausescu.
He set Rome on fire.

"The way Ceausescu the dictator
destroyed churches and villages,

"Nero set Rome on fire."

I was at my aunt's one early evening,

and I was watching a
karate film on my own.

(TV PLAYING)

(GRUNTING)

A family that was at the same screening

-who were party activists
-(KNOCKING CONTINUES)

had made a complaint.

-Yes?
-Mrs. Urse?

-Yes.
-Officer Dinu Popescu.

Is something wrong?

OFFICER: Come with us.

I'll just get my coat.

My aunt was called in
by the secret police.

She was very frightened.

And she was forbidden from telling
me what happened.

(KNOCK ON DOOR)

WOMAN: Who is it?

Cristi, come with me.

CRISTI: All of a sudden,
two men in black came.

They looked like characters
in a crime film.

I was very scared.

My parents locked me in
a room for a couple of hours.

It's such a strange experience.

I wasn't sure what was happening.

But it happened all of a sudden.

And out of the blue...

It was over.

They confiscated
the video player and tapes.

And I never watched films
at my aunt's again.

The people and the youth.

They are the ones who achieved greatness

in the socialist development
of our country.

They are the heroes that should
be sung in films, theater, poetry,

in art, literature, paintings,
all artistic domains.

They need to be represented.

Repression strategies
were getting harsher.

You could feel it at all levels.

(SCREAMING)

More people were questioned
by the secret police.

It was an increasingly repressive time.

(DIALS)

Call in Irina Nistor.

NISTOR: I was afraid because
he hadn't called me in before.

(ELEVATOR BELL DINGS)

(KNOCK ON DOOR)

Come in.

Hello.

-Take a seat.
-No, thank you.

NISTOR: I was trying not to look scared.

What were you thinking
dubbing Jesus of Nazareth?

-People loved religious films.
-Yes.

During Jesus of Nazareth, when they
watched the crucifixion, they would cry!

They would cry!

You'd see them with handkerchiefs,

and they lived every moment!

NISTOR: It was the time when Ceausescu
the dictator was demolishing churches.

(IN ENGLISH)
Father...

(NISTOR DUBBING IN ROMANIAN)

(IN ENGLISH)
Forgive them...

NISTOR: (IN ROMANIAN) You couldn't
go to church without being denounced.

I translated a film...

No, Comrade Nistor, it's a religious film.

I thought freedom of religion
was a constitutional right?

NISTOR: That made him angry.

You're teaching me about the Constitution?

But I don't know what I did wrong.

NISTOR: I didn't know what was coming.

You don't realize how serious this is!

You know how many times you said
God instead of "the one above"?

Do you know who watched this
film and complained?

Do you know?

Get out!

NISTOR: I was really scared.

I felt for the first time that
the end could be near.

Maybe I should've quit then,
but I couldn't stop.

The films were my oxygen.

You think you'll get away with it?
You can't kill policemen.

NISTOR: After that event,
every time I dubbed a film,

I wondered if I'd be called in.

You think you'll get away with it?

He'll come after us.

Help!

Help!

NISTOR: The main thing was...
I could watch films!

I could keep in touch with the world.

Look! It's him. What will we do?

NISTOR: The adrenaline rush was amazing!
To be able to watch and translate.

You are absolute idiots,
you want to know why?

NISTOR: And I couldn't stop, at all.

Because I want to honor you.

NISTOR: It was like a drug.

Like escaping from jail.

You need people like me.

NISTOR: At least six films.

The average was seven or eight.

Once I managed to dub 10 in a row.

Teach me, I can do it!

(TV PLAYING)

Film, like books,

inspired genuine communication
between people.

And the reason is simple, we all
watched the same films!

(TV PLAYING)

(NISTOR DUBBING)
People of Eurasia,

until the final victory
has been achieved...

It was also a way to provoke the regime.

All these films were a way to rebel,
to do something forbidden.

We were subversive, even if we
were just watching a film.

(MIRCEA DUBBING IN ROMANIAN)

It's the trucker frequency.

So it's their dialect?

These people were the resistance!

How did they survive?

Where did they record the tapes?

How did they manage to hide everything?

How come nobody caught them?

Devon is calling.

MIRCEA: I was dubbing.

I'll drive.

MIRCEA: Suddenly they came.

Hello, Michael.

ZAMFIR: How dare you barge in.
Who are you?

Take your hands off me! Take them off!

-Your name, Comrade.
-Zamfir. Who sent you?

OFFICER: Is there
anyone else in the house?

(DOOR SLAMS OPEN)

ZAMFIR: Take your hands off me.

I'll find out who sent you.

Quiet down.

I'll even find out your mother's name.

-(GUN COCKS)
-How dare you talk like that?

MIRCEA: It was a scary moment
which could've ended tragically.

But a magic word,

a password,

made them leave.

(DOOR CLOSES)

ZAMFIR: That's how I found out Mircea
was an undercover secret police officer.

MIRCEA: Mr. Zamfir
never asked me anything.

I never asked for anything in return.

That's honor.

(SPEAKING ROMANIAN)

NISTOR: I didn't know
why they looked so shaken up.

They didn't tell me what had happened.

Maybe they were afraid I'd be scared.

Later on I heard about the raid and why
the secret police didn't stop Zamfir then.

But saving Zamfir put Mircea in a
delicate situation with his superiors.

So Zamfir decided to try bribing the high
officials to get them both off the hook.

SECRET POLICE HEADQUARTERS

Comrade Zamfir.

ZAMFIR: Evening.

Let's sit down and talk.

ZAMFIR: Even these
powerful men were manipulated

by the needs of their wives and children.

They didn't realize that they betrayed
their communist ethics

by taking films from me.

NISTOR: He's an excellent businessman.

It was a very smart move to give
highranking officials tapes for free.

It's like the story of the goose
that lays the golden egg.

You don't kill it. Because you're
left without the golden egg.

BARBU: Mr. Zamfir

became so rich that no one
could touch him. Nobody!

He worked with people of higher
rank, above colonels

from the army, the secret police,
the police,

the Central Committee, people of
very high rank and power.

The rest, he'd just ignore.

MAN: Comrade Zamfir,
I was just trying to help.

I brought you my video player.

ZAMFIR: I have my own.

MAN: You know who
you are talking to, right?

ZAMFIR: Who could stop me,
when everyone wanted tapes?

Once the Attorney General came and said,
"You think you're above it all?"

I said no.

He tried to threaten me.

(MAN SPEAKING IN ROMANIAN)

Take your VCR, call the car and leave!

ZAMFIR: I knew
there was nothing he could do.

Because they all benefited from
my work, the political class.

The secret services, the police.

What could an attorney general do to me?

Ceausescu's son, Comrade Ceausescu's son
tried to get tapes from me.

I gave him everything he wanted,
but I refused to meet him.

Those were my glory days.

(TAPES PLAYING)

(TV PLAYING)

If the videotapes didn't exist,

if Irina Nistor didn't exist...

I don't know, because it's such
an important part of that era.

(SPEAKS ROMANIAN)

She had the voice and she could also
communicate the actors' emotions.

(TV PLAYING)

I was shocked
by how original her voice was.

It was shrill and yet very
pleasant and expressive.

Wait, this is no charity.

-It felt like she'd always been there.
-She was there!

She didn't just dub, she also acted.

There were many characters, men,
women and she acted them all.

And she also made comments.

The guy said "Hello" and she would
make her own additions

to give more color to the character.

She became like an acquaintance
or a friend.

She was there, she was a presence.

(CLICKS BUTTON)

(CLICKS BUTTON)

Teach me. I can do it.

You are not Japanese!
You are not a Tanaka!

How is Santa Claus going to come
if we don't have a chimney?

You'll see!

Why?

To honor you.

NISTOR: I counted them and I had
translated around 3,000 films by 1989.

The Man with the Deadly Lens.

The Godfather.

Look, Cotton Club!

The Deer Hunter.

Kung Fu 2.

Ninja, of course!

The Shining.

Jaws 2.

Death Cruise, imagine that!

Rough Cut.

Later on people told me that
it gave them courage.

That they associated freedom
and hope with my voice.

I felt overwhelmed and happy.

It's that amazing feeling that you
haven't lived for nothing,

and accomplished something at a time
when it was impossible to do so.

(TV PLAYING)

(NISTOR DUBBING)
The 15th round.

-You're going down.
-No way.

It's hard to understand
why they didn't stop it really.

Was it a way to get rid of Ceausescu?

Were they just reckless?
Or were they incompetent?

The highranking secret police were
the most interested in the tapes.

They didn't think it would become
a mass phenomenon.

They thought
it was just amongst themselves.

I don't think Ceausescu knew
the extent of the phenomenon.

He thought it was trustworthy people
from the Central Committee

who watched capitalist films,

and they wouldn't be affected because
they had healthy views.

Nobody informed him, because
they all wanted to watch films.

Nobody was going to say,
"Comrade Ceausescu,

"in Bucharest
there are 10,000 video players."

CROWD: (CHANTING)
Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!

In the end the whole thing exploded.

The seeds of freedom also
planted by the video films

grew.

(CROWD CLAMORING)

BOGDAN: During the 1989 Revolution

everybody was in the streets.

Because they all knew there
was a better life out there.

How?

From films.

CROWD: (CHANTING) Down with Communism!

Down with Communism!

I am theater director Alexa Visarion.

In the name of the Romanian people
the government will now resign.

(PEOPLE CHEERING)

(CROWD CHANTING IN ROMANIAN)

The people are with us!

In a few minutes
we will make an announcement

for the heroic Romanian people.

ALL: We won! We won! We won!

(CHEERING)

NISTOR: A lot of people asked,
"Why didn't you stop?

"Were you not afraid?"

But giving up seemed cowardly to me.

I just wanted to watch films!

And it was a really unexpected
opportunity to watch films.

People need stories, no?

MIRCEA: In 1992,
the phenomenon started to die.

Mr. Zamfir sold everything at
exactly the right moment.

But it was the end of an era.

For me it was

an opportunity to learn
some amazing things,

to observe a great man.

And to this day,

I haven't met a man like Mr. Zamfir.

ZAMFIR: During a dictatorship which
had controlled everything,

they lost control of something
that seemed insignificant.

The videotape.

The videotapes set the whole
communist system off balance.

It's because they were deemed trivial,
that they had such a big impact.

-(BUTTON CLICKS)
-(TAPE STOPS WHIRRING)

-(BUTTON CLICKS)
-(TAPE WHIRRING)

(INAUDIBLE)

(STATIC)

The tapes are here, look!

Here they are.

Look at them.

Look.

(TV PLAYING)

(NISTOR DUBBING) I know it's
tempting to use physical violence.

I know that.

That's her.

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