Exploring universal themes of abandonment, aging, rejection, hope and forgiveness, we are led into Monica's world through an introspective and riveting journey of our shared human condition.

Project type: Fiction Feature
Project status: Release
Director: Andrea Pallaoro
Writer: Orlando Tirado
Producer: Gina Resnick
Producer: Eleonora Granata
Producer: Christina Dow
Executive Producer: Christina Sibul
Executive Producer: Karen Tenkhoff
Director of Photographer: Kate Arizmendi
Costume Designer: Patrik Milani
Production Designer: Andrew Clark
HMU Department Head: Chelo Acosta-Conley
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Monica is the intimate portrait of a woman who returns home to the Midwest for the first time in 20 years to take care of her dying mother. Exploring universal themes of abandonment, aging, rejection, hope and forgiveness, we are led into Monica’s world through an introspective and riveting journey of our shared human condition.



Monica had its world premiere in competition at the 79th Venice International Film Festival, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, to an 11-minute standing ovation and widespread rapturous acclaim.

Beloved by critics and audiences alike, the film is a nuanced portrait of a transgender woman reconnecting with her estranged family after decades away. Trace Lysette stars in the title role and Academy Award nominee Patricia Clarkson plays her mother; together, their outstanding performances tell a powerful story of family, memory and forgiveness.

Touted as the “most important film to see this year”, Lysette and Clarkson’s performances have garnered widespread attention with more than 30 influential critics calling for serious awards consideration for both actors.

The film overall has been lauded as a major work of art with a spare, deeply sensitive script written by Andrea Pallaoro and Orlando Tirado, brilliantly directed by Pallaoro and strikingly lensed by the gifted cinematographer Kate Arizmendi. In addition to major awards recognition for the film as a whole, a leading actress Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Independent Spirit Award nomination for Lysette, a transgender actress, would be a historic first and Clarkson’s supporting role merits equal recognition. By supporting Lysette’s outstanding performance, we have the opportunity together to make history by breaking the glass ceiling for transgender actors to compete for major awards.

Our Awards campaign also represents an important opportunity to stand with and for the LGBTQ+ community in general and the trans community in particular.

Sponsoring Monica’s Awards campaign represents more than providing needed support for a worthy independent film and its stars, it means advocating for and helping to change the discourse and the perceptions around issues faced by the transgender community.

Representation and visibility are key to acceptance and awareness especially in the current environment where the transgender community is under attack and heightened understanding is critical to effect change. This film brings these issues to the public in an important and necessary way.

Make a donation to Monica.


Meet the Filmmakers

Andrea Pallaoro – Director

Andrea Pallaoro (b. 1982, Trento, Italy) holds an MFA in Film Directing from the California Institute of the Arts and a BA from Hampshire College. His film debut, Wunderkammer, a short film presented in competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, was selected in the official competition of over fifty film festivals around the world and won several prizes. His first feature film Medeas (2013), starring Catalina Sandino Moreno and Brian O’Byrne, premiered at the 70th Venice Film Festival (Orizzonti) and won numerous international awards including Best Director (Marrakech International Film Festival), the Sergej Parajanov Award for Outstanding Poetic Vision (Tbilisi International Film Festival), Best Film – New Voices, New Visions (Palm Springs International Film Festival), and Best Debut-Cinematographer Award (CamerImage). Hannah, his second feature, premiered at the 74th Venice Film Festival and proceeded to win numerous prestigious international recognitions including the Coppa Volpi for Charlotte Rampling for her interpretation as the title character, the award for Best Cinematography at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival, and a César Nomination for Best Foreign Film. Andrea was an artist-in-residence at Yaddo in 2013 and 2015, and was the recipient of a Jerome Foundation Grant in 2017.

Orlando Tirado – Writer

Orlando Tirado (b. 1982, San Luis Potosi, Mexico) is a writer, filmmaker, and artist. He holds an MFA in Art: Photo and Media from the California Institute of the Arts, an MA in Comparative Literature from Binghamton University, and a BA from Hampshire College. Residencies include Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, and LMCC Workspace. Orlando and Andrea have collaborated since 2000, co-authoring projects including the short film Wunderkammer, which won six international awards and screened in over 50 international film festivals, and two feature films: Medeas and Hannah. Orlando lives and works in New York and California.

Katelin Arizmendi – DP

Katelin Arizmendi is an American cinematographer from Northern California. Her career began with commercial and music video work, shooting for brands such as Adidas, BMW, Burberry, Levi’s, Mercedes, H&M and Rolex. Her passion is in human stories about the LGBTQ community, sexual liberation, coming of age, racial injustice, and mental illness. Her first feature film, Cam, a thriller set in the world of webcam pornography, won Best First Feature and Best Screenplay at Fantasia 2018. Her second film, Swallow (IFC), a drama/thriller about a pregnant housewife who develops pica, premiered at Tribeca 2019 and at Camerimage Festival for Cinematographers Debut. Her third film, Charm City Kings, is releasing on HBO Max on Oct 8th. It was directed by Angel Manuel Soto with an original screenplay by Barry Jenkins for Sony Pictures Classics. It premiered at Sundance in the Dramatic US Competition, winning the award for Best Ensemble Cast. In 2019, she worked on Dune with Director Denis Villeneuve and DP Greig Fraser, collaborating closely with both as 2nd Unit/Splinter DP. Prior to the pandemic shut down, she was in production for Flint Strong, a true story about a female boxer Claressa Shields, which will be Rachel Morrison’s directing feature-debut.

Gina Resnick – Producer

Gina Resnick is a prolific independent film producer and former studio executive with extensive and wide-ranging experience in the creative, legal, business, and production arenas. Having produced over 15 feature films, she has worked with some of the top filmmaking talent and actors around the world. She is the co-founder of Varient Entertainment, an innovative film, television and technology company, where she has produced 7 feature films and numerous music videos, commercials, branded content and short films with partner Kyle Heller over the past 8 years. They currently have a full slate of unscripted and narrative TV shows in development. Some of her film credits include The Girl in the Book, Medeas, Reservation Road, Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, Clockwatchers, and Imaginary Heroes. Her films have received both critical acclaim and financial success, premiering at major film festivals worldwide including Venice, Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival, and have been theatrically released by leading independent theatrical distributors. Previously, she served for nine years as Executive Vice President of Acquisitions, Co- Productions and Business Affairs for Columbia Tristar Home Video. Gina is a graduate of NYU Law School and SUNY Albany and currently lives in Los Angeles.

Christina Dow – Producer

Christina Dow is an award-winning American film Producer. She founded Solo Five Productions and serves as its Managing Director and CEO. Christina began her career in theater, most notably producing The Blue Room, by Academy Award Nominee, David Hare. As a film Producer, her first feature film collaboration was with Writer/ Director, Andrea Pallaoro, entitled Hannah, starring Charlotte Rampling. Hannah had its world premiere in 2017 at the 74th Venice International Film Festival where it was nominated for a Golden Lion and Ms. Rampling took home the Best Actress award. Christina will next serve as a Producer on Pallaoro’s third feature, Monica, expected to start shooting in spring 2020, in association with Killer Films, as well as serve as an Executive Producer on Writer/ Director, Rafael Pallacio Illingworth’s, third feature film, Tercer Intento, completing production in spring 2020. Christina holds an MFA in Producing from The American Film Institute and a BA in Art History from Boston College. She resides in Venice, California.

Eleonora Granata – Producer

Eleonora Granata is an acclaimed festival director, consultant, and producer. She was the U.S.A. Representative and Program Advisor for Biennale di Venezia, for seven years and worked as a film acquisitions consultant for different Studios such as MGM, United Artists. She previously served as Senior Vice President, Acquisitions and Production at Pandora Cinema and as Vice President and Head of Films Acquisitions and Co-Productions at Turner Pictures. She began her career with RCS Films and Television, where she eventually came to oversee the company’s worldwide acquisitions and production. She has extensive credits as a producer, including on the 2014 Venice Film Festival Horizons Award winner Medeas and Hannah. She produced documentaries with Oliver Stone. Eleonora is the US representative of Black Nights Film Festival and director of Eurasia Film Festival (KZ) She is a graduate of the Milan Institute of Higher Education and has a Juris Doctorate in Political Science and International Law from Milan University.

Christina Sibul – Executive Producer

Christina Sibul is a veteran indie and studio exec, having overseen films such as Catherine Hardwicke’s Thirteen, Alexander Payne’s Sideways, and House of Sand And Fog for Dreamworks, among many others. Other credits as a consultant, producer and executive include The Station Agent, Lords of Dogtown, The Family Stone, 40 Days and 40 Nights, Traffik, and the upcoming On The Come Up as well as many television pilots and series. As a producer, she’s looking forward to the theatrical release of Butter, starring Mira Sorvino, Ravi Patel, and a host of other soon to be known young stars in Fall 2021. Her movies have won Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards and Spirit Awards among others. Christina is a graduate of Yale School of Drama.

Karen Tenkhoff – Executive Producer

Karen Tenkhoff is a film producer and executive with numerous feature credits to her name—in both live action and animation. She served for over a decade as senior executive and producing partner to Academy Award-winning director Robert Redford at his company, Wildwood. Among her many credits, she served as a Producer on The Motorcycle Diaries, which received a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Foreign Film and won the British Academy Award for Best Foreign Film; as Executive Producer on The Clearing and The Legend of Bagger Vance and Associate Producer on The Horse Whisperer which received a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Picture. Pixar co-founders John Lasseter and Ed Catmull turned to her storytelling expertise to help them build Disney Feature Animation’s development slate. She served as the senior development executive on Winnie The Pooh, Tangled, the Academy Award-nominated Wreck-It Ralph, Moana and the Academy Award-winning hits Frozen, Big Hero 6 and Zootopia. She now works as an independent producer and story consultant in both live action and animation.