TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding



Ioana Uricaru


Germany, 1st May 1945. A mansion in the countryside, caught between the Soviet and British troops advancing from different directions. Inside, housekeeper Dorothea is preparing dinner while owners Helga and Hubertus von Gellert are preparing suicide to avoid capture and ruin. They are interrupted by American Intelligence officer Rutherford and British sergeant Lander.

Rutherford questions Hubertus about his medical research, and Dorothea is terrified to find out that Soviets will be taking over the area after midnight. When Lander discovers disturbing information about experiments on humans in Hubertus’ notes, his superior becomes very interested in it. To Lander’s dismay, Rutherford sees the value of Hubertus’ research for the American military and considers offering him safe passage to the American side. Hubertus’ and Helga’s reactions reflect their different ideas about what makes life worth living. A Soviet patrol shows up much earlier than expected, forcing major decisions.


This fictional story is based on historical events, especially Operation Paperclip, the US military’s secret programme of recruiting German scientists. I have a personal investment in stories about historical uncertainty, when things are changing but nobody has the whole picture of what is really happening, when panic and confusion reign and yet people find a way to live fragments of normal life.

The atmosphere of Germany at the end of World War II is similar to the hallucinatory moments of December 1989 in Romania. It reminds me of people waiting in line to buy detergent in my hometown, while others were being shot just a few yards away.

Paperclip addresses questions that still haunt the 21st century: is there any acceptable reason for damaging another person’s body? Will there ever be true justice for the victims? Does the greater good justify everything? Can we trust those who decide what is the greater good? I would like the audience to be unsettled, because you cannot point to the moment in the story where things went wrong, and yet at the end you clearly feel that something is not right.


A war hiding a transaction hiding a betrayal.
Ioana Uricaru

Scriptwriter, Film Director

production notes

directed by
Ioana Uricaru