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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI alum David Bettencourt to premier latest documentary at Lupo’s, April 30

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It’s a Bash! offers look into Neutral Nation, Rhode Island punk rock scene

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 28, 2010 – University of Rhode Island adjunct professor and alum David Bettencourt (’97) will premier his latest documentary film It’s a Bash!: A Film About Being in a Band on Friday, April 30 (8 p.m.) at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in Providence.

It’s a Bash! tells the story of Neutral Nation, a punk rock band that started in 1983 as a group of skateboarding friends from Attleboro, Mass. with no real musical background and turned into a band with a strong local following. Neutral Nation regularly filled Providence clubs throughout the 1980s and early ‘90s and played with legendary acts such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Ramones.

“They’ve got fans that have followed them all the way back to 1983,” said Bettencourt, who teaches film studies courses at URI. “What makes them even more interesting is that they have had a longevity usually found in bands making lots of money.”

Adding to the story is the social consciousness of Neutral Nation, which used its music to give back to the community. Their performance at Providence’s The Living Room for the 1986 charity concert Bandwagon, which raised money to battle hunger and homelessness, is a piece of Rhode Island music lore.

“This was truly a community rock band,” Bettencourt said. Following the lead of the band’s philanthropic work, $1 from every DVD sold for It’s a Bash! will be donated to the Rhode Island Food Bank. Bettencourt expects the DVD to be released 6-8 months from now.

The film explores how the band was able to reach multiple generations of punk rockers while maintaining the friendship among group members. It’s a Bash! gives fans a chance to relive those days of hanging in clubs and listening to great local music. Following the debut of It’s a Bash! Friday night, Neutral Nation will take the stage for a performance, a decision Bettencourt called “a no brainer player.”

“It’s an absolute honor to be doing this,” Bettencourt said. “I love the music, I love punk rock, I love Neutral Nation and I love movies. I’ve always wanted to do something that involved telling a good story, and these guys have a good story.”

The film, which takes its name from a Neutral Nation song, features 20 tracks by the band.

While the film will premiere Friday at Lupo’s, it also will be shown nightly (9 p.m.) at the Cable Car Cinema in Providence starting May 2. There also will be a screening at Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport on May 7.

Bettencourt’s work has been gaining significant notice of late. His film You Must Be This Tall: The Story of Rocky Point Park won several awards in 2007 and 2008. He and G. Wayne Miller are finalists for a New England Emmy for On the Lake: Life and Love in a Distant Place, which looks at the tuberculosis epidemic in early 1900s America and globally today. Bettencourt – who directed the film – and writer/producer Miller will attend a ceremony held at Gillette Stadium by the New England chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on May 22.

Bettencourt and Miller have also teamed with Eagle Peak Media for another documentary, Behind the Hedgerow: Eileen Slocum and the Meaning of Newport Society. Set to debut at the 2010 Rhode Island International Film Festival in August, Behind the Hedgerow is the first-ever feature-length movie about the secret world of old-money Newport.