‘A hurtful act is the Transference to others of the degradation which we bear in ourselves.’ Simone Weil

Transference: A Bipolar Love Story

Katarina, a Norwegian nurse in London, embarks on a passionate affair with a fellow immigrant nurse that suffers the consequences of unresolved mental health issues from the lovers' secret pasts.

Synopsis And Review By Sweta Rana

Katarina leaves Norway and her family problems behind to start a new life in London.

She dreams of freedom, travel and adventure, but her plans become jeopardized when she falls for an enigmatic, older, nursing colleague, Nik. The spark between them is instant and ignites quickly as their secret romance soon escalates into a passionate affair, but as quickly as it flares up, it starts to unravel and turn sour when unresolved past relationship issues and untreated mental illness over power them.


This is a truth deftly explored in Raffaello Degruttola's feature film, Transference. It follows Katerina, a Norwegian nurse played with delicate emotional vulnerability by Emilie Sofie Johannesen, as she begins a whirlwind love affair with an older Italian nurse, Nik (Degruttola).

The story, told primarily from Katrina's perspective, begins to deepen as it becomes evident both Katerina and Nik are dealing with their own pasts and mental health issues. Consequently, their bond suffers strain.

Such a concept could be accused of pessimism, but Transference refuses to shy away from the truth despite our best intentions, we are capable of inflicting hurt on those most important to us.

Degruttola uses a limited budget to his advantage, with the film's confined internal settings and close-up shots inviting the audience into Katerina and Nik's intimate but idealistic connection.

The muted colours and emotive soundtrack compound the sense that this is life- full of wonderful things such as heady love or the pulsing rush of a night-time motorcycle ride; but still life, stark and grounded by truth.

Transference is at its core a film steeped in sincerity. Whilst it does not provide the escapism one might usually find in a love story, it's a powerful watch because it finds beauty in the familiar, fantasy in the reality.

Love is transformative, and wonderful, and inimitable- but it isn't always enough.


Emilie Sofia Johannesen playing as Katarina

Emilie was born in Bergen, Norway. After secondary school she moved to London to study and work as an actress. She is best known for her recurring guest role in the Norwegian drama series Aber Bergen (2017-18). Johannesen has also starred in numerous commercials, music videos, festival nominated short films and has performed at the Edinburgh and Brighton Fringe Theatre Festivals to rave reviews.

Raffaello Degruttola is the writer and director of Transference as well as playing Nik

Raffaello was born in Barnet North London. He is an English, Italian actor, writer and director. His notable acting film credits include Rush, Saving Private Ryan, The Hustle, Wit, Quantum of Solace and Unlocked. He wrote and directed his first 30min drama, 'The Other Side Of My Sleep', in 2010, inspired by the death of his father and grandmother, and with its success, having opened at The Boston Film Festival, he decided to shoot his first feature, 'Flim The Movie' which went on to be nominated for, British Debut Film at the British Independent Film Awards in London.

His other recent short films 'No Way Home' & 'Transference: The Short' are award nominees and winners in various film festivals around the world, including a win for 'No Way Home' in conjunction with CNN which took him to the UN to speak about his experience on the making of this poignant film about sex trafficking in London.

Lotte Verbeek playing as Marike

Lotte is an award-winning Dutch actress, dancer and model who was born in Venlo, Netherlands. In 2010, she was named the ‘Shooting Star’ winner by the European Film Production. She is a lifetime member of the Actor's Studio since 2015, and starred in several hit tv series such as Outlander and The Borgias and award winning feature films, such as The Fault In Our Stars and Nothing Personal.

Christina Chong playing as Natasha

Christina was born in Enfield, North London, England. She is an actress and writer, known for Star Wars - The Force Awakens, Black Mirror, Johnny English Reborn, Line of Duty and Doctor Who.

Pernille Broch playing as Camilla

Pernille was born as Pernille Broch Korsbøen. She is an actress, known for EastEnders and Transference: A Bipolar Love Story.

Simone Lahbib playing as Sophie

Simone Lahbib is an actress and producer, known for A Confession, The Loch, Da Vinci's Demons, Philomena, Downton Abbey, Wire in the Blood and Bad Girls



As if to relieve us from our busily speedy lives, Degrutolla offers a slow paced drama which looks deeply into the dynamics of a relationship between Nik and Katerina. This is no ordinary relationship though, οr is it? But what is ordinary anyway? And what makes up a relationship in the first place? While we find ourselves struggling with these questions, we watch the two characters battle in the workplace, within their friendships, and with what society understands as mental health.

Nik and Katerina transfer into their evolving relationship remnants of their past histories. We get a glimpse of Katerina trying to cope with a troubled family back at her home country. And then it's Nik; a man surrounded by mystery about his past, as we gradually find out a series of tremendous losses that have knocked his sense of being.

Degruttola manages very skillfully to place the relationship on a pendulum, oscillating between sanity and insanity, throughout his very moving, depthful film which ask us to consider, whether this very passionate relationship is healthy or not and how it can survive both characters eternal conflicts. it remains painfully unclear whether their internal upheaval is sane at all. Painful, because it poses questions within ourselves about how we deal with loss, and what mental defenses we built to protect the functionality of our demanding lives.

He literally places both characters on a bridge, in the suburbs of London, symbolically connecting the sane with the insane part of self, and perhaps as a reminder of the mental splitting between internal and external reality. When the split goes too deep with one betrayal and one loss too many, then a mental health crisis happens, and suddenly what feels very real inside, crashes with an unforgiving version of external reality. Is this a mental

breakdown, or an opportunity for truth to surface?

In the closing scenes Degruttola then places his characters standing on the ruins of their relationship, against the ugliness of mental illness. Is there a future for them? Is there hope that in accepting our mental health limitations, we can embrace as a society other people with mental health difficulties? After all, we've all crossed that bridge one way or the other..

The Best of Guerilla Filmmaking is Making with Friends: The story Behind " Transference"

Gone are the days when guerrilla filmmaking was a shaky handheld experiment to see how far the law and economy abide independent filmmakers to make a cinematic masterpiece.With the ever-growing presence of cheap, professional-quality technology available in just a few clicks online, filmmakers, such as Robert Rodriguez (‘From Dusk Till Dawn’, ‘Spy Kids’, ‘Sin City’), don’t necessarily need to spend weeks suffering clinical research trials to raise money for their films anymore. And production house Contro Vento’s Raff Degruttola latest film ‘Transference’ proves not only that but also the beauty, fun and friendships behind making a guerrilla film.

One friendship that blossomed during the making of Transference is that of writer/director/actor Raff Degruttola and Dutch TV and film star Lotte Verbeek- most recognised for her roles as ‘Geillis Duncan’ in the hit series ‘Outlander’, Giulia Farnese’ in ‘The Borgias’, and as ‘Lidewij’ in the Blockbuster feature film ‘The Fault In Our Stars’.

Degruttola: “ I first met Lotte on the set of The Borgias. I was just in for a day, she was a series regular, but we quickly connected. Firstly through our sense of humour, and then in a mutual understanding of the work and our respect for it as well as each other.”

Verbeek: "Raff was so passionate about ‘Transference’ it was exciting to be part of the process. He talked about the film a lot and we actually co-created my role. So there was a lot of freedom in his process and I really enjoyed that."

Without any corporate sponsorship or craft funding schemes, Degruttola’s vision for his film was met through the love and understanding of artists and friends who hold the same passion for creating art for the sake of art, not profits. As such, a micro-low budget is not a threat to Degruttola's success. In 2014, his first comedy-drama feature film ‘Flim’ was also made with a low budget any modern independent filmmaker could expect, The film was nominated for the Raindance Award in the British Independent Film and TV Awards. So, as much as a low budget can limit some filmmakers, Degruttola establishes strong and positive relationships with people to make his vision a successful reality- better than any equipment could. Verbeek's role as the ex-wife of Degruttola’s character, Nik, was firstly improvised, a method Degruttola finds most creativite. He describes it “like a band jamming in a studio finding the best notes to add to the song”.

Verbeek: “Money was never a motivation when it comes to small projects like this. It’s all about the inspiration and the heart of the film. It’s inspiring to be on the creative level of storytelling”.

The lack of excess during the filmmaking gave the cast and crew the freedom to find the space and creativity to perfect their craft. On the day of filming Verbeek’s scene, it was just her, Degruttola and a two-man production crew, which was smaller than a student filmmaking set but benefited from the lack of chaos and distractions of a crowded studio.

Her humble openness to work in such a small project like Transference allowed her greater creativity and added variation to her art form that proved her versatility and talent to work under any condition. They were able to get the scene done in one take and ended the working day early, just in time for lunch.

Degruttola: “That’s how well it works when two people trust each other and can open up in a scene.”

Degruttola uses the benefits of having a small crew, much like a mini-tribe, where there is more trust, comfort and freedom that all contribute to a quicker and more creative filming process.

Lotte’s experience is an example of how guerrilla filmmaking can make for more original and organic art. With accessible and affordable technology available to all filmmakers, it’s the people and friendships that mask the hairiness of guerrilla filmmaking to look and become professional.

Directed by

Raffaello Degruttola


Bill Bossert...executive producer

Sérgio Clinkett...consulting producer

Raffaello Degruttola...producer

Emilie Sofie Johannesen...co-producer

Sadie Kaye...co-producer

Poya Shohani...creative-producer

Simone Lahbib...creative producer


Simon Haynes

Phil Summers

Film Editing

Charles Lort-Phillips

Costume Design

Chlöe Ranaboldo

Sound Department

Imola Unger

Editorial Department

Rebecca Goodeve

Music Department

Somer Bingham

Nico Dyl

Stella Talpo

Alex Cortiz

Jonathan Kerrigan


Raffaello Degruttola ... Nik Coluzzi

Emilie Sofie Johannesen ... Katerina Nielsen

Lotte Verbeek ... Marieke

Pernille Broch ... Camilla

Simone Lahbib ... Sophie

Ania Sowinski ... Natasha Kocinska

Christina Chong … Natasha Wong

Iggy Blanco … Miguel Cortez

Bea Watson … Senior PU Nurse Lisa

Tyrone Keogh … Douglas Cornell

Dylan McKiernan … Ryan

Liza Mircheva … Laura

Poya Shohani … Kaivan

By Shoka Shohani

Created By
Shoka Shohani