The Journey of Monalisa
Directed by Nicole Costa • Documentary • 2019 • 93 minutes
Chilean-born performer and writer Iván Monalisa fully embraces his / her dual selves: scrappy, masculine Iván as well as diva, transvestite sex-worker Monalisa. A reunion with filmmaker Nicole Costa, Iván’s former college classmate, provides the opportunity for a journey through this undocumented transgender immigrant’s daily life of sex, drugs, and poetry—as well as a quest for US legalization. Pragmatic and humorous, Iván Monalisa navigates the gritty underbelly of New York City with charisma and charm.
Nicole Costa intersperses recent scenes of Monalisa’s attempts to get a visa and their first successes as a writer with old VHS footage, snippets of telephone conversations, and extracts from their work: beautiful, raw pieces about life and survival in New York.
“Offers another side of the Chilean trans experience. Monalisa’s story will be quite foreign to the average filmgoer, and it’s one that urgently deserves to be heard.” – Jude Dry, INDIEWIRE