The Internet’s Own Boy

evaporating-borders-1

The best film I saw this year at SXSW was not a documentary, but it was made in the style of one. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows is a hilarious mockumentary about a foursome of vampires living together as flatmates in Wellington, New Zealand. I mention it not only because I think most doc fans appreciate a good mockumentary but to note the irony since the best documentary I saw this year at SXSW was made in the style of a narrative. Actually, I’m trying to not make that claim these days. I should instead say that it was not made in the conventional documentary style. In general it felt like a weak year for the doc program. I didn’t love any of the jury award winners (some at least make my honorable mentions spotlight below), was disappointed in not only the quality of many premieres (especially the absolutely worthless Wicker Kittens) but also the lack of many bigger buzz titles from Sundance in the festival favorites section (it baffles me that Simon Chinn was in town but without The Green Prince). I didn’t hear a lot of talk of docs I missed, though I left still curious about Yakona, The Immortalists, Print the Legend and definitely PULP, which is pretty much the only music doc I heard any positive chatter for. Due to a few reasons, including the fact that I was covering other stuff for Film School Rejects and because there wasn’t a good vibe anyway, I didn’t see a whole ton of […]

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internets own boy

Barely a year passed between the death of Aaron Swartz and the premiere of a documentary honoring him. Normally something like this quickly turned-around film, The Internet’s Own Boy, would be all respectful tribute and emotional testimony. Much of it is, and on the latter point there is understandably a lot of tears from the interviewees, most of them family and friends who are speaking very soon after Swartz’s suicide in January 2013. But while director Brian Knappenberger primarily offers up a loving, elegiac biography aimed at those who already or will see the subject as a hero, there’s a lot more to this doc than who Swartz was, why he was great and how much of a tragedy it is that he’s no longer around. All of that basic stuff can be sufficiently gleaned from a Wikipedia page, and that’s surely an appropriate place to do so given that Swartz created a similar site of his own as a preteen computer prodigy and continued working on projects devoted to free information over the next 14 years of his short existence. To note some of his achievements, we have Swartz to thank in part for RSS, Reddit and Creative Commons as well as for the defeat of SOPA, the infamous Congressional bill to fight piracy that would have drastically altered the web for the worse. He also became the target of federal prosecutors looking to set an example of deterrence following his arrest for stealing academic articles from JSTOR. And […]

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Meat Loaf and a member of the KISS Army in STAGE FRIGHT

Seems like just two months ago we were knee deep in Sundance coverage, but already we’ve moved on to the next big thing in film festival coverage. SXSW is the annual film/music/interactive extravaganza that draws film, music, and interactive(?) fans from all around the country to descend into Austin, TX for one hell of a good time. We here at FSR come for the movies (and the food and the friends), and this year our team is four strong and ready to rock. And by rock we mean sit in theater seats of varying levels of comfort, enjoy the culinary wonderland that is Austin’s food scene, and hang out with other like-minded characters. This year’s fest features a lot of titles we’re excited to devour with our eyes, but of the dozens of films we’ll be seeing this coming week we’ve narrowed down our top fourteen below. Neil Miller had to be talked out of putting The Raid 2 on here multiple times, Christopher Campbell moved outside his comfort zone to show interest in some narrative films, and Jack Giroux failed to realize that “anticipated” should really refer to movies he hasn’t seen yet. Keep reading to see which fourteen films we’re anticipating most at SXSW 2014.

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aaron swartz documentary

One of the best documentaries of last year is We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, a film that looks at the history of Internet activists/hackers/pranksters Anonymous while remarkably tying together stuff like LOLCats and the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement (stream it now via Amazon or download from iTunes). Now that doc’s director, Brian Knappenberger, is taking on another web-based story, which will show how the movie WarGames led to the suicide of one of the 21st century’s greatest geniuses. Not that it will put any blame on a 1982 movie starring Matthew Broderick nor focus on that particular chain of events. The Internet’s Own Boy will tell the short life story of computer programmer Aaron Swartz, one of the minds behind numerous Internet-related projects including RSS (at age 14!), Reddit, Markdown, Watchdog.net, and Creative Commons and an activist against SOPA and for WikiLeaks. Sadly, he hung himself in January of this year (at age 26), following two years of being hit with felony charges stemming from illegally accessing and downloading material from the online journal database JSTOR.

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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