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A free screening of 'Butter': Napa school district shows a powerful film about bullying

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Butter in front of his computer

A lonely teen-ager announces he is going to eat himself to death online in "Butter."

Butter, a lonely, obese boy announces that he is going to eat himself to death live on the Internet and invites everyone to watch. When he makes the announcement online, he expects pity, insults or indifference from his classmates. Paradoxically, his announcement wins him popularity with the same people who have bullied him. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? 

When Dr. Barbara Nemko, Superintendent of the Napa County Office of Education (NCOE), saw the film "Butter" at the Socially Relevant Film Festival, she decided that every high school student in America should see this study about the toll of bullying on students.

The school district planned a public screening of it, with the guests Alex Kersting, who stars as the teen-ager, and Paul Kaufman who directed the adaptation of Erin Jade Lange’s novel “Butter."

COVID-19 intervened, however, and cancelled the 2020 event.

Now, it has been rescheduled, Nemko announced this week, and on Oct. 21, families are invited to watch the film at the District Auditorium. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion and a Q&A, again featuring Kersting and Kaufman, as well as a mental health consultant, who will discuss the movie's themes -- bullying, the power of social media and suicide prevention. 

“This film deals with every issue that is important to teens,” Nemko said in an interview with John Henry Martin, who viewed the film and interviewed the director and star for a story in 2020.

“You have bullying, social media, suicide and then the whole dysfunctional family issue. I think it’s hard not to empathize with Butter, and if kids can feel that empathy, they may rethink actions that they might have otherwise taken.”

The doors open at 5:45 p.m. at the District Auditorium at 2425 Jefferson St. Napa, and the film begins at 6 p.m. Masks are required. To reserve a seat, visit and follow the Butter link on the homepage. 

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