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Sundance Women Directors: Meet Ilinca Calugareanu – ‘Chuck Norris vs Communism’

Sundance Women Directors: Meet Ilinca Calugareanu - 'Chuck Norris vs Communism'

Ilinca Călugăreanu is a freelance documentary filmmaker and editor based in London with a background in anthropology. As she describes herself, “I moved towards filmmaking whilst exploring the same themes of memory, place, space, and emotion in my practice. My films have a social and ethnographic focus, striving to engage with and understand different cultures from within.” (Ioncinema)

Chuck Norris vs Communism
, Calugareanu’s first feature-length documentary, will premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 23. 

W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.

IC: Chuck Norris vs Communism is a story about the magic of film and the power it has to affect and change our lives.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

IC: I grew up in Communist Romania in the 1980s, and my first contact with American films was through the voice of Irina Nistor, who dubbed thousands of the black-market movies that were watched clandestinely by millions of Romanians at the time. I wanted to recapture the magic of those nights when we’d watch 4-5 films in a row and feel we’d opened a window to the West.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

IC: This is my first feature doc, so the biggest challenge was to convince people to believe in me and in the way I wanted to tell the story.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theatre?

IC: I’d love for them to be taken back to those childhood moments when they fell in love with movies and allowed themselves to be totally transported to another world.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

IC: It’s the advice I would give to any emerging director — to never give up fighting for their vision and their story.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

IC: It was a difficult journey for my sister Mara Adina, who’s also the film’s producer, to fund this film. It took about two and a half years, but in the end we were very fortunate to attract incredible partners. Our first break came with Passion Pictures, who were heavily involved both creatively and in terms of giving funders confidence in our film. The first financier was Openvizor in the UK, followed by two European broadcasters, HBO Europe and WDR, in collaboration with ARTE. We were thrilled when the wonderful Impact Partners came on board, followed by RatPac Documentary Films. We are very proud to say we recently received the post-production grant from the Sundance Institute.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

IC: Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation for the bittersweetness of the story and the subtlety and lightness of her style, through which she takes you on a dreamy, emotional journey with her characters.

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