In communist Romania, thousands of Western films on bootleg VHS tapes — mostly Hollywood action movies — were smuggled behind the Iron Curtain, opening a window into the free world. Under President Nicolae Ceaușescu, Romania was culturally isolated and ideologically censored. Images of life outside its borders were cut off and TV was reduced to propaganda bulletins. From the drab concrete housing blocks to the food ration lines, the threat of surveillance prevented people from stepping out of line. But in the mid-1980s, under the nose of the Securitate, Ceaușescu’s secret police, thousands of Hollywood films were smuggled into the country by an underground operative named Zamfir, and they were all covertly dubbed by Irina Nistor, a courageous translator whose distinct voice captivated the nation and became a symbol of freedom. As we see through evocative re-creations in Chuck Norris vs Communism, a network of secret screening rooms sprung up across Romania as families, friends, and neighbors gathered to watch action heroes like Norris, Van Damme, and Stallone, along with romantic comedies, dramas, and Hollywood epics.
The veteran Bay Area jazz singer, Barbara 'Bobbe' Norris began her professional career singing in restaurants and clubs in Sausalito, California, and worked in San Francisco in the late 50s and early 60s. During this period, she was also secretary to the Kingston Trio. In the mid-60s, Norris moved to New York where she was signed to Columbia Records by John Hammond Jr., subsequently performing at the Persian Room of New York's Plaza Hotel and in Las Vegas at The Sands Hotel with the Buddy Rich band, and released for Columbia an album called "The Beginning".