SXSW Film Review: 'The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz'

Lamenting a death by celebrating a life

Young Aaron Swartz shined a light into darkness, and then entered it.


Following Friday night's premiere, director/producer/screenwriter Brian Knappenberger described this film as “another part of the same story” of his 2012 We Are Legion on the hacktivist movement, although recounting “a darker time.” The story of Aaron Swartz, the heroic free-Internet activist who committed suicide in 2013 after two years under extreme pressure from an overreaching and absurd federal “computer fraud” prosecution, is certainly somber, because we know its outcome. But the film is also an engrossing, illuminating celebration of Swartz’s life, and his work helping to invent and defend the astonishing potential of the World Wide Web.

Via a broad range of interviews and available footage – including even family home movies – Knappenberger recounts Swartz’s life as a precocious child, a young computer prodigy, and finally a brilliant thinker and activist who both understood what knowledge dissemination could do for social progress and knew what tools could help us get there. Building apps and websites, advancing networks, innovating exchanges, he seems always out-front of the next wave. Even under indictment, he helped enflame the seemingly impossible SOPA political victory. The tragedy of his death does not obscure the extraordinary vitality of his life, vividly told here.

See "About a Boy" for our interview with Knappenberger.


The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz


Festival Favorites
Saturday, March 8, 1:45pm, Alamo Village
Tuesday, March 11, 4:15pm, Vimeo
Saturday, March 15, 4:30pm, Vimeo

READ MORE
More South by Southwest
SXSW Expands SouthBites Programming
SXSW Expands SouthBites Programming
David Chang announced as featured speaker

Brandon Watson, Sept. 30, 2014

Two More Acquisitions for SXSW Alumni
Two More Acquisitions for SXSW Alumni
'Honeymoon' and 'Thank You a Lot' picked up

Monica Riese, March 28, 2014

More SXSW
White House Announces South by South Lawn Lineup
White House Announces South by South Lawn Lineup
Event features Leonardo DiCaprio, Lumineers, Stranger Things cast

Tucker Whatley, Sept. 26, 2016

Fede Alvarez Says <i>Don't Breathe</i>
Fede Alvarez Says Don't Breathe
On Detroit, Uruguay, and shooting that scene

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 26, 2016

More by Michael King
Tom “Smitty” Smith Announces Retirement
Smitty Retires
Public Citizen director to remain during search for new director

Sept. 20, 2016

Council: Budget Crunch Time [UPDATE]
Council Budget Crunch
City Council continues final number-crunching

Sept. 9, 2016

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

South by Southwest, SXSW, SXSW Film 2014, SXSW 2014, Aaron Swartz, privacy, SOPA, piracy, Brian Knappenberger, documentary, review, The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)