After scoring rave reviews at Sundance, the first trailer for The Internet’s Own Boy, the new documentary on the late programmer and hacktivist Aaron Swartz, is finally here. A prodigy — though he never saw himself that way — from the moment he first got on a computer, the new teaser offers a look at the various ways Swartz worked to make the Internet a place where information could be shared freely and openly.
Along with co-creating Reddit and RSS, Swartz worked tirelessly to stop the potentially dangerous and speech-stifling Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act and was an outspoken critic of the corporate privatization of digital knowledge.
The Internet’s Own Boy trailer includes a clip of security footage that shows Swartz’s most infamous act: breaking into a closet at MIT and releasing millions of copyrighted academic articles on JSTOR. Swartz was subsequently arrested and soon found himself facing 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines on felony charges based mostly on the anachronistic Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986. The trumped-up, example-making charges took their toll on Swartz and caused him to take his own life last January. “He was the Internet’s own boy,” a woman says at the end of the trailer. “And the old world killed him.”
The Internet’s Own Boy was directed by Brian Knappenberger and funded entirely on Kickstarter. The film will see a limited theatrical release on June 27th. If the trailer doesn’t suck you in, you can check out our positive review of The Internet’s Own Boy from our 2014 Sundance coverage. “The film does an extraordinary job of detailing Swartz’s evolution as a thinker,” Logan Hill writes. “It’s not the story of how a prodigy inevitably became an famous hacktivist — it’s the story of how a bright young kid’s stubborn commitment to logic inspired a lifetime of unpredictable and very specific choices.”