A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

  • 98'
  • USA
  • 2006
This strikingly strong debut fits in the list of coming-of-age films such as Mean Streets, Kids and Saturday Night Fever, all set in harsh urban surroundings. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is situated in Astoria, Queens, an area that was a rough working-class neighbourhood in New York City at the time.
After being away for nearly 20 years, Dito (played by Robert Downey Jr), now a successful writer in LA, returns to the area where he grew up to visit his severely ill father one more time. There he is confronted with the people he left behind. They are the ‘saints’ from the title. In flashback we see the young Dito and his friends in the streets of Queens, his first true love and the difficult relationship with his father.
Dito Montiel based his debut film on his book of the same name, which comprises many autobiographical elements although Montiel stresses that he included many fictional elements. As a self-taught man, he set to work with great courage and passion. Not hindered by much basic knowledge of film, he used unconventional style elements: actors talk to the camera and voiceovers are used inventively. The film has already won various prizes at Sundance and Venice, including ones for the strong cast. (LC)

Director
Dito Montiel
Country of production
USA
Production Year
2006
Festival Edition
IFFR 2007
Length
98'
Medium
35mm
Language
English
Producers
Trudie Styler, Travis Swords, Charlie Corwin, Clara Marcowicz
Production Companies
Belladonna Productions, Original Media, Xingu Films
Sales
First Look Pictures
Screenplay
Dito Montiel, based on his memoirs
Cinematography
Eric Gautier
Editor
Christopher Tellefsen, Jake Pushinsky
Production Design
Jody Asnes
Sound Design
Charles Hunt
Music
Jonathan Elias
Cast
Robert Downey Jr., Shia LaBeouf
Local Distributor
Paradiso Filmed Entertainment