Saturday, May 16, 2015


Following NYC premiere at VisionFest NYC, Cinema Libre Studio Acquires
‘Official Centerpiece’ film, ALTO
starring American Idol’s Diana DeGarmo and Annabella Sciorra in an LGBT ‘family’ film

Cast and crew from ALTO on red carpet during the film’s VF15 premiere
(photo by Derek Soto – Sinestra Studios)

New York, May 16, 2015:  Following its New York City premiere at VisionFest 15, Cinema Libre Studio has acquired ALTO, a ground breaking independent film that turns the mob comedy on its ear by introducing a lesbian love story that seeks to bridge differences and unite families. Written and directed by transgender filmmaker Mikki del Monico, the film stars American Idol’s Diana DeGarmo and features her vocals in original music.

ALTO is a quirky love story set in the midst of an unanticipated run-in with the New York Mafia, its comedic elements making it accessible as a story about family as much as about personal growth.  Improbable love, the mob, and family traditions gone awry pave the way for laughter in this character-rich story that explores how the most surprising discoveries often come when we least expect it, in the midst of murder plots, federal investigations, and …oh yeah, lasagna!

The film was produced by Toni D’Antonio and Shake the Tree Productions. 

From left to right:
Producer Toni D’Antonio, Writer-Director Mikki del Monico, and Executive Producer Ellora DeCarlo

It features Diana DeGarmo as “Frankie del Vecchio,” Melanie Minichino (Sopranos, Law & Order) as her sister with Annabella Sciorra (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Cop Land) and David Valcin (Person of Interest, New Year’s Eve) as their parents. Natalie Knepp plays “Nicolette” (The Last 5 Years, Orange Is The New Black) the mobster’s daughter, a modern day femme fatale.

DeGarmo first caught America’s attention by earning the runner-up position on American Idol’s third season, a platform she used to launch a successful music and theatre career, including the Tony award-winning revival of Hair. She is currently wrapping up a national tour as the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Alto features original music performed by DeGarmo with vocals added by her husband Ace Young, also an American Idol alumnus, and the chart topping girl-group Antigone Rising.

The unique take on this Romeo-and-Juliet family comedy was conceived, written, and directed by del Monico. “I know what it’s like to step outside the everyday world and play by my own set of rules. The path to making this film involved my coming out as transgender, something I’d felt completely unprepared to discuss for many years.  I have a great family, but I wasn’t prepared for their acceptance.  I’d tied myself in knots because I didn’t want to hurt them.  Instead they gave me the gift of any great family: their love.”

The film was unveiled publicly for the first time in New York on May 15, as the ‘Official Centerpiece Screening’ at VisionFest 15: The Other Festival (aka VF15), which celebrated its 15th annual run with this special anniversary edition.  Organized and curated by the Domani Vision Film Society, a non-profit arts and culture organization dedicated to “bringing you tomorrow’s visionaries today,” VF15 continued its tradition of ‘promoting domestic filmmaking’ by presenting works made exclusively by some of the most talented U.S. based indie filmmakers on the film festival circuit today. 

VF15 also introduced a sidebar, art component this year with Musical Vision, a photo exhibit featuring live concert performance images captured by New York photographer, Mark Doyle. The festival selected 41 films, originating from 12 states, for this year’s line-up, with 32 of the films vying for the prestigious IVAs, the Independent Vision Awards.  ALTO is one of the films up for multiple award categories, with 4 nominations:  Outstanding Achievement in Production, Outstanding Actor – Lead Female Role (Natalie Knepp), the Jack Nance Breakthrough Performance Award (Diana DeGarmo), and Production Design.  In light of its two consecutive ‘sold out’ screenings at VF15, ALTO is also a front-runner for the festival’s first-ever Audience Award.  IVA winners will be announced during an Awards Ceremony on Sunday, May 17, 2015 at 8:45 p.m. in the TC2 screening venue of Tribeca Cinemas.

Cinema Libre Studio, the Los Angeles based distribution company known for distributing a wide array of social-issue documentaries and provocative films by passionate filmmakers has acquired worldwide rights.  Says Richard Castro, COO and VP of Acquisitions, “Our company is proud to shine a light on films and filmmakers with unconventional perspectives.  Mikki has made a fun film that not only serves up a fresh take on the traditional mob story, but champions the LGBT community while doing so.  That’s a win-win-win in our book."

Learn more about the film:

About Cinema Libre:
Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Cinema Libre team has released over one hundred films including the Sundance Audience Award‐Winning FUEL, THE END OF POVERTY?, Rachid Bouchareb’s LONDON RIVER and Oliver Stone’s SOUTH OF THE BORDER. The studio is developing John Perkins’ best‐selling memoirs, CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HIT MAN, into a major motion picture and is currently releasing CAN’T STAND LOSING YOU: SURVIVING THE POLICE and DAYS OF GRACE (DIAS DE GRACIA). For more information and updates, please visit:| Updates | Facebook | Twitter .

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