A Dressmaker's Daughter

Romanian Jewish girl, studying to be a doctor, falls in love with her tutor. When the Nazis invade and murder her family, her lover joins the partisans. She is forced to be the concubine of a Romanian Iron Guard officer and nurse enemy soldiers.

Beautiful, spirited DANIELA, age 18, is living in Yedinitz, Romania in 1939 She dreams of becoming a doctor, but as a Jewish girl, she is barred from higher education. Her mother, who is dressmaker to the local COUNTESS KANYADI, hires her a tutor, the rebellious, brilliant MIHAIL. The two soon begin a passionate affair, abetted by PHILIPPA, the countess's sexy British nanny who is also sleeping with COUNT KANYADI. Philippa helps the lovers arrange their secret trysts in the groom’s quarters on the Count's estate.

When the Nazis invade Romania, Mihail joins the partisans. The Count and Countess beg Daniela to flee to London with them, but she remains with her parents and brother—who are murdered within days. Alone, Daniela is sent east on the notorious Transnistrian Death March, where the Jews are murdered and robbed on their way to oblivion.

When Daniela’s beauty catches the eye of Iron Guard commander, Major Dragulescu, he forces her to be his concubine and also sends her to nurse Romanian solders in the field hospital. When the Romanians, Hitler's allies, are pulverized by the Red Army at Stalingrad, Daniela cannot help but pity the enemy soldiers. She discovers that Major Dragulescu has lost his son, and that his wife had died horribly from cancer. Although she cannot forgive him, she feels sympathy for this cynical, tormented man.

One night Mihail appears on a mission to assassinate two key Nazis visiting the major. They are associates of Eichmann, who is trying to ship Romania's surviving Jews to Auschwitz before Romania makes a separate peace with the Allies. Daniela leads the partisans into headquarters through a secret entrance.

In a pitched battle, the partisans kill the two Nazis and Major Dragulescu, but Mihail also dies. Broken-hearted, Daniela escapes with the partisans, who train her in sabotage and battle tactics. She throws herself into living on the run behind enemy lines, drawing courage from memories of Mihail and her family. When the partisans link up with the Red Army to attack German garrisons near the Ploesti oilfields, over 50,000 German prisoners are captured.

After the war, Daniela enters a Displaed Persons (DP) camp, where one of the Romanian officers, a friend of Count Kanyadi, recognizes her. He gets a message to London, where the Count and his family, including Philippa, are living, and they arrange transport for Daniela to London.

The Count's luxurious London townhouse seems like paradise, but Daniela only misses Mihail. Working as a nurse’s aide in a London hospital, she meets and marries brash American pilot ZIGGY BLOMBERG.

In America, Ziggy grows wealthy as a building contractor, but Daniela remains alienatd and haunted by her wartime experiences.

As the credits roll, flash forward to present day, where Daniela’s son, Michael, a middle-aged doctor, and his own son are visiting Yedinitz to discover more about Daniela, who has recently died. They enter Count Kanyadi's once luxurious estate, now an overgrown ruin. They stroll unknowingly past the scene of Daniela and Mihail's clandestine passion when they were first lovers.

Script Excerpt
Written by:
Starring Roles For:
A young Benicio Del Toro
A young Mila Kunis
Stellan Skarsgård
In the Vein Of:
Europa Europa
Schindler's List
Author Bio:
I'm a produced screenwriter. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English. I was just nminated for a 2021 Pushcart Prize in fiction.

I wrote the feature film, Murder in Fashion, about the killing of designer Gianni Versace by serial killer Andrew Cunanan. The film played at theatres and festivals and was reviewed in the NY Times:

I collaborated with producer Don Murphy (Transformers, Natural Born Killers) on the script "Fast Fade" on the life of tragic film noir actress Barbra Payton.

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Contest Results:
Bruce Geller (Finalist, Request to see coverage) [2010]