Monumental screenplay

Feature Drama, Adventure, Romance
After a school shooting, a devastated, middle-aged high school guidance counselor seeks peace in nature by hiking in Yosemite; her ”two-spirit“ Native American guide takes her life on an unexpected detour. Read more

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SYNOPSIS for Monumental

MONUMENTAL Feature by Christine Inserra

Sue, a 63-year-old high school career counselor, finds herself a reluctant hero in a bloody school shooting. Booze and pills barely put a dent in her post-traumatic anxiety and insomnia, so she is put on medical leave. Her 35-year, dutiful but mismatched marriage disintegrates. Desperate to find the happiness she knew growing up in a caravan with her nature-nut of a father, Christian mother, and younger brother, Sue plans to sell her house and take a road trip to the Nation Parks.

At Yosemite, Sue tries to hire Chumani, a retired Native American park ranger, as a guide. Newly widowed, soon to be homeless, Chumani first balks at helping the chatty, pushy, out-of-shape Sue. But she begs and agrees to follow Chumani’s many rules. Initially comfortable believing Chumani is a woman, Sue has a mind-flip when she discovers that Chumani is a “Two-Spirit, a male and female spirit in the body of a man.”

Over four weeks, Sue develops strength, stamina, and inner peace until she loses her pills in a near-death cliff fall. Slowly, flashback nightmares return as Sue relives the death of her 8-year-old brother and the school shooting. Instead of feeling healed by the catharsis, Sue medicates a painful, gnawing emptiness with booze. Chumani refuses to take Sue further in this condition. Belligerent Sue exerts her independence and stomps off hiking on her own. Continued storms and flash floods put Sue in danger. Chumani turns his truck around and searches for Sue on foot. A flash flood knocks Chumani unconscious. Sue leaps into action and drags him to safety.

Stranded in the rain, the two spend the day and night in the truck. Sue apologizes and throws her flask out the window. The next day they drive to a rustic inn, where a hot shower and food help warm the intimacy the two experience. Afterward, Sue is torn between this first experience of true sensual passion and duty as Nell calls Sue home to care for her husband, Carl, who has had a stroke. Torn, Sue leaves Chumani.

Having acclimated to living outdoors, Sue sleeps in a tent in Nell’s backyard at night and cares for her unappreciative husband during the day. Sue manages her mental health by attending AA meetings and hiking but realizes she will likely become the next casualty. When Nell discovers that Sue loves Chumani, she texts him incognito from Sue’s phone. Chumani, who longs for Sue, hits the road in his new mobile home only to find that Sue has left Nell’s and moved to her friend Darcy’s. Nell admits to the “matchmaking” and takes Chumani to Darcy’s. When they arrive, Sue is off hiking in the hills. Chumani tracks Sue to a distant hill and plays his heart out to her on a love flute. Sue follows the dulcet tones to find Chumani. After a joyful embrace, Sue asks, “What…now?” With a light-hearted chuckle, Chumani suggests dinner.

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