Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


ONLINE EXCLUSIVE! A Guide To Recognizing A Great Film

It is a rare film that exceeds both narratively and stylistically. Dito Montiel’s A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints is a rare gem of just this sort.

Part of the 2006 Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival, Montiel’s masterpiece screened at The Cinema Paradiso to a packed house. The venue was so crowded that folding chairs were needed to accommodate the overflow.

The film is adapted from Montiel’s book of the same name and is a coming of age tale set in the tough streets of Astoria, N.Y. Winner of two 2006 Sundance Film Festival awards (director/ensemble cast), the film features both academy award winning actors and budding talents tackling their first roles. Dianne Wiest, Robert Downey Jr. and Chazz Palminteri share the screen with several young actors literally cast off the street. It lends an authenticity to the film that often blurs the line between on and off screen.

Director Dito Montiel discussed this and several other points in about as straight forward and entertaining Q/A session as one could hope for. A Guide is proof that you do not need a college degree or elaborate film training to make a wonderful film. What you do need however, and not necessarily in this order, is talent and luck. Montiel discussed being thrown out of high school and how little he knew about the filmmaking process. As he began writing the screenplay, he first thought that INT. /EXT. meant entering and exiting. He would later learn this referred to interior and exterior as it seemed odd that characters were coming and going with such frequency.

The luck part came in when he worked in a dub room where his boss was good friends with Robert Downey. He made a one minute short that Downey happened to see and he asked Montiel, “why not make it an hour and a half?” Montiel’s book came about in similar fashion as he was writing short sentences below pictures of his childhood friends and asked himself, “why not make this about two hundred pages?”

As Montiel approached the microphone to answer questions, he appeared a bit timid and shy. This all changed as he began talking about his film and passion took charge creating an all over glow. The Q/A session provided a glimpse into the whole process as Montiel described battles between himself, producers and distributors over several points. In today’s climate of double speak and question avoidance, it was truly refreshing to hear such direct, candid answers. The film and Montiel are breaths of fresh air and much needed alternatives to glossy, pre-packaged Hollywood productions.

Don’t forget to check out these films

Along with this great Q/A session, I also had the opportunity to speak with the event’s President and CEO, Gregory von Hausch. The Ft. Lauderdale film festival is the longest in the world, and I was curious to see what else von Hausch felt distinguished this fest from others. He told me that the Lauderdale fest “prides itself on being the friendly film festival.” He correctly asserts that “film people can be pretty pretentious and it is bad enough when a filmmaker is that way, but when a film festival comes across as a self important event, it’s just obnoxious.” Von Hausch also told me about some of the more memorable moments over the years including “Burt Reynolds hitting on the Hawaiian Tropic girl, Ben Kingsley insisting on being called Sir Ben, and flying into Tehran at 3 a.m. and having a colleague escorted away by the secret police.” Even with his hectic schedule, von Hausch made time and got back to me immediately. The Lauderdale festival features a diverse mix of films and clearly reflects the mentality of its President and CEO.

The festival runs through November 12 and there are numerous daily screenings. Here are a few upcoming films that should not be missed:

-Pittsburgh is a musical mockumentary featuring Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley Jr. and Illeana Douglas. It is the festival’s centerpiece film and screens Friday, November 3, 8:00 p.m. at Parker Playhouse.

-For those who enjoy the ever popular shark genre, Shark Water should prove an appetizing option. Director Rob Stewart’s documentary sets out to prove that sharks are more afraid of you than we are of them. If you disagree, Stewart will be on hand after to field your questions. Sunday, November 12, 7:30 p.m. at Parker Playhouse.

-The Night Of The White Pants promises to be a unique tale. Tom Wilkerson, Selma Blair and Nick Stahl lead a great cast in a bizarre narrative. It is your typical story of a young woman introducing her new beau to her father as they embark on a night of lawlessness and general mayhem. Saturday, November 4, 3 p.m. at Parker Playhouse.

These are only three of the hundreds of films yet to screen. For a complete list of films and showtimes, visit www.fliff.com.

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