Mona's Stranger

Institute History

  • 1995 June Screenwriters Lab


Take two sisters with something to hide, one newlywed ex-husband, half of one brother, and a liberated mother. Sauté. Add an American made father, a lesbian's lover and a heavyweight girlfriend. Simmer over a low heat. Stir in a nosy Aunt, a neutered Uncle, backstabbing cousins and a Nana with a nicotine jones. Boil over a high flame until secrets bubble to the surface and burst. Garnish with misconceptions and pour, steaming hot, over a bed of preconceived notions. Season to a bitter aftertaste and serve.

Wash your hands and come to the table, you're invited to dinner at Mona's.

The whole family has gathered to celebrate Nana Lilly's eighty-eighth birthday. Mona is the perfect hostess with the painted smile; she'll get through the party if it kills her. And it just might.

Tension thickens after the unexpected appearance of a stranger whose appetite for ruby rings is outweighed only by his taste for the truth. Masquerading as Mona's man, Eddie elicits conversational confessions from everyone he meets. Soon Mona finds herself being force fed secrets better left unsaid, by a family better left unfamiliar.

By the time Eddie's ex arrives and dishes up dessert with a .44, Mona has been betrayed, enlightened, confused, astounded, slapped, kissed and confronted. Worse yet, she's held hostage by the sweetheart scorned and forced to decide the fate of her family. Who will live? Who will die? Who will still be speaking after the bullets fly? It will take more than gunplay to reconcile these blood relatives.

So sit down, pass the salt and enjoy a wickedly funny meal of accusations and innuendos, served with a healthy side order of self discovery. Bon appetit!


As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]