You are reading

Film Documenting the Struggles That Astoria Bar Owners and Employees Faced During COVID-19 To Screen Saturday

The film follows the life of a bartender who worked at the Sparrow Tavern in Astoria when the pandemic broke out (Instagram)

June 29, 2021 By Ryan Songalia

A film documenting the struggles that Astoria bar owners and employees faced during the COVID-19 pandemic will have its New York City premiere at a film festival in Queens this Saturday.

“Last Call: The Shutdown of NYC Bars” will be screened at the Queens World Film Festival on July 3, with an in-person screening at Queens Theater in Flushing Meadows at 1 p.m., followed by a virtual screening at 8 p.m. through the Film Festival Flix app.

The film was directed by Johnny Sweet, an Emmy Award-winning producer who worked at ESPN for 10 years, and produced by Bryan TwZ Brousseau.

The 61-minute film follows Jena Ellenwood, a bartender at The Sparrow Tavern on 23rd Avenue in Astoria, as she copes with the frustrations and anxieties after her entire industry is laid off in a single day due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Other Astoria bars that are featured include Diamond Dogs on 31st Avenue and The Bonnie on 23rd Avenue.

The film was shot at the height of the pandemic, with interviews being conducted in an empty studio, with cameras that were remotely operated, and subjects that were fully masked.

Sweet, who worked at a bar throughout his college days at Syracuse University, says he felt a personal connection to the struggle that bar and restaurant workers were experiencing.

“I imagined thousands of those small professional families having their lives ruined at the same time over something they couldn’t control,” said Sweet, whose film, “Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story,” was nominated for a 2019 Sports Emmy Award.

“These businesses and their employees needed a voice, a platform to speak about the sacrifices they made for us to help turn the tide against Covid-19.”

The film will air on the final day of the Queens World Film Festival, which runs from June 23 to July 3 and will showcase 198 films – 133 of which will be screened at live venues.

The pandemic has loomed large over the festival as well, as last year’s festival was moved entirely online due to the pandemic.

Tickets for the live-screening cost $10 and can be purchased online through Brown Paper Tickets. The live stream airing can be purchased for $15 at Film Festival Flix.

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Crunching the Queens crime numbers: felony assaults across the borough on the rise, burglaries down slightly in northern Queens

Feb. 21, 2024 By Ethan Marshall

The number of felony assaults across Queens increased during the 28-day period from Jan. 22 through Feb. 18, compared to the same period of time last year, according to the latest crime stats released by the NYPD Tuesday. At the same time, the number of reported burglaries experienced a slight but noticeable drop in northern Queens.

Maspeth man faces life in prison for 2020 fatal stabbing in Dutch Kills: DA

A Maspeth man who was caught by transit cops vaping inside a Brooklyn subway station in January is facing as much as 75 years to life in prison for stabbing a Dutch Kills man to death four years ago.

Luis Hernandez, 36, of 56th Street, was arraigned Tuesday in Queens Supreme Court on a seven-count indictment charging him with murder, gang assault and other crimes in the fatal stabbing of a 21-year-old man and the attempted murder of two others in Astoria in 2020.