Participant, FilmBuff Buy U.S. Rights to 'Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz'

'The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz' (Cinetic/Roco)
Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Brian Knappenberger

The Buzz: Swartz committed suicide at age 26 on Jan. 11, 2013. This film examines the life of the programming prodigy, a onetime co-owner of Reddit, who championed open Web access but found himself facing steep fines and decades in prison for downloading academic journals.

The documentary about the tech-savvy teen prodigy premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

Participant Media and FilmBuff have acquired all North American rights to Brian Knappenberger's acclaimed documentary The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.

They are planning a simultaneous theatrical and VOD release this June, followed by the documentary's TV debut on Participant's Pivot network this winter.

The film recounts the life of Internet programming pioneer Aaron Swartz, who took his own life after he was indicted for computer fraud. Using testimonies from Swartz's closest acquaintances, The Internet's Own Boy traces the life of the young activist and how his arrest for allegedly downloading nearly 4 million academic articles from the online service JSTOR may have contributed to his early death.

STORY: The Most Infamous Fistfights, Freak-outs and Firsts at Sundance

Internet's Own Boy made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January and will also play at the upcoming SXSW Film Festival. Executive producers are Charles Annenberg Weingarten, Zach Braff and Mason Fink. John Dragonetti composed the score.

"From the moment I started filming, I wanted to find a way to both bring Aaron's story to the widest possible audience and to use the film to advance the principles he cared about," Knappenberger said. "Teaming with Participant and FilmBuff is exciting because their focus has been on supporting great films that have at their core social change with strategic action campaigns, which is critical for a story like this. We're thrilled to engage audiences and carry on Aaron's fight by moving forward on the broad range of Internet and social justice causes Aaron cared about."

The deal was negotiated by FilmBuff CEO Janet Brown and head of content partnerships Steven Beckman, Participant COO Jeff Ivers, Pivot senior vp acquisitions and operations Jennie Morris and Cinetic Media founder John Sloss.