Dito Montiel’s directorial debut A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is a powerful coming-of-age story based on Dito’s own experiences growing up in the tough neighbourhood of Astoria, Queens, New York in 1986. Set against an electric ’80s soundtrack and exuding the rawness and authenticity of the classic movies Mean Streets and Stand By Me, Montiel explores how he came out unscathed, while his friends ended up either dead, junkies or in prison.
The film features exceptional performances from its talented ensemble cast including Robert Downey Jr. and Chazz Palminteri, and breakout performances from Shia LeBeouf and Channing Tatum. A Successful writer living in Los Angeles, Dito (Robert Downey Jr.) is summoned home to Astoria, Queens (NY) after a 15-year absence when his father (Chazz Palminteri) becomes seriously ill. Memories of his youth come flooding back as Dito revisits the old neighbourhood, encountering a few childhood friends (the “Saints”) who still remain.
As Dito finds himself whisked back into the childhood events that shaped him, we meet an unforgettable cast of characters living in the thick of a sweltering 1986 Queens summer. These “Saints” include Laurie (Melonie Diaz), Dito’s childhood sweetheart; Mike (Martin Compston), a Scot who dreams of being a punk rock musician; Guiseppe (Adam Scarimbolo), a reckless, destructive and possibly insane member of Dito’s street posse; and the unforgettable Antonio (Channing Tatum), Dito’s cocky and volatile best friend grappling with an abusive father.
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is the story of how a young man’s hunger for experience and individuality cuts against his loyalty to friends and kin. It’s about coming to terms with misplaced love, reconciling with family and embracing the ghosts of your past. A Guide to Recognising Your Saints is based on Dito’s autobiography, released by Revolver Books in February 2007.