Sid Abbruzzi is the stuff of legends. With his ‘80s punk band Big World, he opened for Iggy Pop three times; inside his Newport surf and skate shop Water Brothers, he refused to stock trendy brands; and when Moonrise Kingdom was being shot in Rhode Island, actor Bill Murray was a fixture at the shop with a clubhouse vibe, which closed in May of 2016 and currently operates as pop-up events. Any East Coast kid worth their weight in salt who ever dreamed of getting on a board or picking up a deck knows about Abbruzzi, AKA The Package.
This month, the story of the larger-than-life figure with hair as gray and wavy as a swell on a foggy day, comes to the big screen in Water Brother: The Sid Abbruzzi Story. The feature-length documentary is the work of the Kinnanes, eight filmmaking brothers from Adamsville who grew up surfing with Abbruzzi. Production began in September of 2020, and the premiere will take place days shy of Abbruzzi’s 72nd birthday at Fort Adams. The outdoor event is presented by newportFILM, a nonprofit that hosts documentaires at landmark locations across Aquidneck Island. The film is described as a poignant reflection on a life well-lived and a tribute to the enduring spirit of surf culture, depicting surfing and skating as more than just hobbies, and how the dedication of one individual can inspire community.
“Discovering Water Brothers and meeting Sid was a life changing moment for me,” says Mike Yarworth, longtime frontman for Neutral Nation, a punk band celebrated with their own documentary in 2010 by David Bettencourt and inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2017. “Hanging out at Water Brothers was like an indoctrination for a young skate/surf punk like me, and Sid was our high priest. We’d hear the latest in new music and discover products for skating and surfing.” Yarworth continues, “Going to see Sid in his band Big World only cemented him in as high priest, and I’m forever in debt. Congratulations on the documentary, Sid; no one deserves it more. Much respect.”
So how does Abbruzzi feel about all of this adoration? “I’m excited about this film being made by the Kinnane brothers,” he tells me from the road, wife Danielle transcribing. “I couldn’t picture it being made by anyone else. The boys all grew up surfing with me, and their father and I are great friends.”
The Kinnanes tell the story through a mix of large-format cinematic footage, archival photos and clips, and interviews with friends and fans including artist, skateboarder, and fellow punk Shepard Fairey, who first made his mark as a RISD student in the late ‘80s affixing his “Andre the Giant has a Posse” stickers around Providence, long before creating the Barack Obama “Hope” poster. Says Abbruzzi, “I’m blessed to have all this vintage footage that we kept our hands on over the last 50-60 years. And whether it’s photographs or film that goes back that far, it all tells the story.”
Andrea van Beuren, co-founder and artistic director of newportFILM is excited about the Fort Adams event. “We’re thrilled to be premiering Water Brother in Sid’s hometown. I can’t imagine a better filmmaking team than the Kinnane brothers to bring Sid’s legendary life to the big screen.”
Abbruzzi is looking forward to the premiere, which promises to be a special evening. “I’m thankful to have this screening of the documentary with Newport Film at Fort Adams. We’re proud to represent Northeast surf and skate culture and how it grew to what it is today. Looking forward to a great night.”
August 17, Venue opens at 5pm, film stars at 8pm
Fort Adams, Newport (Rain Venue: Casino Theatre)
Suggested donation: $10 • NewportFilm.com
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