By Sherri Kimmel
Always a storyteller, Mikki del Monico ’89 launched into screenwriting and directing
with his first feature film, Alto, in 2015.
The movie includes music by Antigone
Rising, founded by sisters Cathy ’90
and Kirsten Henderson ’92. During
the making of the film, del Monico also
made the transition from female to
male — an experience he has chronicled
for The Huffington Post and in a short
video. He was on campus Homecoming
Weekend to screen Alto for the LGBTQA
Alumni 25th Anniversary Celebration.
(See adjacent story.)
Q:Alto is your first feature film, and there are a lot of references
to Italian culture — music, dancing, food,
the mob. Was this film an exploration of
A:Yes. It was also an exploration of stereotypes in the media. I wanted
to tackle those stereotypes, particularly
of the Mafia genre, which have been so
ubiquitous and have shaped the way that
non-Italians see Italian-American culture.
Q:The mother character, played by the well-known actress
Annabella Sciorra, is confused about
her cultural identity. Was the struggling-with-one’s-identity theme a reflection
of what you were going through at the
time of the filming?
A:Completely, but with a caveat. At he time of the writing, there was
this internal struggle about my identity,
but I wasn’t consciously writing about it.
I knew I didn’t feel right in my body, but
I was writing myself into dealing with it
rather than actively addressing it. In
terms of why I chose to transition
during the making of the film, it was
because, as a director, I needed to get
into the mindset of the character, and
the character was about being her
authentic self. And I thought, ‘I cannot
direct this without doing that myself.’
You put so much of your heart into
something, and when the heart is divided,
it’s not the way to go into making a
story about authenticity.
Q:How did you manage to deal with the stresses of making a
film and transitioning?
A:They balanced each other out, because when I felt incredibly
stressed out about coming into my own
gender identity I was distracted by the
film. As a Gemini, it worked perfectly.
I actually think it was the best time for
me to do it.
Q:Alto has won several awards at film festivals around the country
— and in Spain. Why do you think it’s
sparked such a positive reaction?
A:It appealed to people because it’s a comedy. People like to laugh.
People also respond to the family aspect.
And the love affair feels very genuine —
that blossoming of something that
completely catches you off guard. Some
people love the music, some people
love the relationship between the two
women, some people love the whole
family, and some people love the Italian
part. I’ve had old Italian men come up to
me and be like, “You got it!”
Q:You’ve been a film editor, a book editor, a personal trainer,
a digital media assistant on a Semester
at Sea ship. What’s next for Mikki del
A:I’ve been working on Alto, the Musical. That’s one of the reasons
I retained the theatrical rights. I’m
going to continue to write and hopefully
Watch the trailer for Alto.
See del Monico’s video “Seven Things
To Consider When Making Your First
Feature Film (While Transitioning from FTM).
Mikki del Monico ’89 screened
his first feature film, Alto, during