A young missionary walks into a bar. Then, the bartender changes his life with a single drink.

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A young missionary walks into a bar. Then, the bartender changes his life with a single drink.

Steven Crosby is a man of good intentions and sincere faith. When he heads to Antigua, Guatemala, he has every intention of fulfilling the religious mission that sent him there.

But his journey doesn’t go as expected, as he encounters a little Mayan girl, a black magic woman and a saint with a cigar — and confronts the flaws both in himself and in his original mission.

This short dramedy is both funny and moving, with idiosyncratic narrative details juxtaposed against beautiful photography. Actor/director Chris Keener’s performance is both goofy and warmhearted, and rooted in genuine emotional responses to the foreign environment around him.

“The Garden of Steven” is loose, amiable and sincere, striking a balance between quirkiness and sentiment. By the film’s end, it becomes not just a story of a man encountering a new environment, but a spiritual journey about a soul opening to the world around him.

His self-discovery begins at 15:08…

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