After 17 years, Nicole Costa gets in touch with Iván Ojeda, her old Chilean friend from college. Back then he was a talented theater director and playwright, but it turns out he has reinvented himself. Iván now goes by Monalisa and works as a prostitute on the streets of New York. Intrigued by this transformation, Costa decides to follow Iván Monalisa, a “gender-neutral two-spirit,” in their tough and vulnerable life filled with fleeting sexual encounters and addiction to hard drugs. Nonetheless, Monalisa does continue to write beautiful, raw pieces about life and survival in New York.
Recent scenes of Monalisa’s attempts to get a visa and her first successes as a writer are interspersed with old VHS footage, snippets of telephone conversations and extracts from her work. All this is framed by scenes of Monalisa proudly parading through the streets of New York—a living artwork searching in the shadows for the light of self-expression.
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