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Thursday, April 19 News

'Hey Bartender,' a documentary with a Westport twist, screened May 29

"Hey Bartender," the 2013 documentary film produced and directed by a pair of Westporters and features a Saugatuck barkeep, will be screened here on Thursday evening, May 29.

And if scenes of craft cocktails being mixed and served makes filmgoers thirsty, they can sample some of the high-end concoctions at a post-screening reception.

The screening is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and is sponsored by the Westport Cinema Initiative, the nonprofit that plans to build a boutique movie house off Main Street.

"The colorful, fast-paced documentary ... celebrates the renaissance of the craft cocktail and the men and women who mix them with rock star aplomb," the Los Angeles Times said in a review.

The 92-minute film features an array of mixologists from some of trendiest bars across the nation. But its two primary characters are an injured former Marine intent on becoming a celebrity bartender at one of New York's most exclusive bars and Steve Carpentieri, owner of Dunville's Restaurant in Westport.

The ex-Marine, Steve Schneider, is an enthusiastic apprentice at the Greenwich Village bar, Employees Only. He is learning to make craft cocktails and dreams of being promoted to principal bartender.

Carpentieri, a banker-turned-resraurateur, is intent on perfecting the craft cocktail, too. But his motive is to revive the struggling Dunville's, a neighborhood place on Saugatuck Avenue.

The Westport screening will include a post-film discussion with a panel including director Douglas Tirola, a member of the Westport Cinema Initiative's board of directors; co-producers Susan Bedusa, a Westport native, and Danielle Rosen of Weston; and film critic Susan Granger, whose reviews appear in the Westport News.

Attendees later can sample craft cocktails created by bartenders from the United States Bartending Guild.

The film premiered at the SXSW Film Festival.

Like the L.A. Times, The New York Times, noted the film's allure.

"The drinks and their consumption look mighty glamorous in `Hey Bartender,' " the Times said, calling the film a "tidy and ingratiating documentary ode to high-end mixologists."

The Hollywood Reporter, however, was not as complimentary.

In its review, it said the film "never really gets around to focusing on what it is that makes today's craft cocktail superior to the swill at T.G.I. Friday's." It refers to Dunville's as "a run-of-the-mill watering hole" and calls Carpentieri "a complete foreigner to the mixology scene."

Tickets to the "Hey Bartender" screening cost $10 at the door or online at www.westportcinema.org, and proceeds benefit the cinema initiative.