“Star Wars Kid” Ghyslain Raza breaks his silence for the first time . The documentary Star Wars Kid: The Rise of the Digital Shadows (URBANIA/NFB), directed by Mathieu Fournier, launches online at NFB.ca on March 31.
March 23, 2022 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
As the 20th anniversary of the digital age’s first viral phenomenon approaches, director Mathieu Fournier’s Star Wars Kid: The Rise of the Digital Shadows (URBANIA/NFB) will be available to stream free online at NFB.ca as of March 31. In this feature-length documentary, shot in Trois-Rivières, New York and Portland, Ghyslain Raza reflects publicly on his story for the first time. And he meets with renowned figures including technologist and blogger Andy Baio, trend expert Amanda Brennan and media observer and essayist Kate Eichhorn. As Raza looks back at his own story, he also explores our collective experience living in an online world in which we have to make peace with our digital shadows. How high a price are we paying to satisfy our hunger for content?
Star Wars Kid: The Rise of the Digital Shadows (Dans l’ombre du Star Wars Kid)
2022, 80 min
An Urbania production (Annie Bourdeau), in co-production with the NFB (Pierre-Mathieu Fortin)
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/star-wars-kid-the-rise-of-the-digital-shadows
- Ghyslain Raza was 15 years old in 2003, when his two minutes of fame would make him the “patient zero” of web virality. He’d filmed himself letting it all hang out in a static-shot video. An amateur video. Overnight, it was made public by other students and downloaded millions of times—long before social media came onto the scene. Suddenly, “sharing” became synonymous with meanness, intimidation and a mob mentality. Unwittingly, Raza became the “Star Wars Kid.”
- Over the next two decades, Ghyslain built his life away from the camera. A man with a keen intelligence, today he’s a doctoral student in law. The world has changed since 2003, largely thanks to the rise of social media—with its extreme lack of empathy—the commercialization of personal data, and the web’s relentless memory, which could come back to haunt us at any time. It’s a potent fear, and one that leads to questions on the right to control one’s own image and, above all, the right to be forgotten.
About filmmaker Mathieu Fournier
Mathieu Fournier has worked in media for two decades. He has directed several radio documentaries for Radio-Canada and, in television, he has credits as a research journalist and writer on numerous documentary series and one-offs. Star Wars Kid: The Rise of the Digital Shadows is his first feature-length project.
About protagonist Ghyslain Raza
Ghyslain Raza earned bachelor’s degrees in civil and common law from McGill University, as well as a master’s in comparative law. He is also the recipient of the university’s prestigious Wainwright and Henri-Capitant prizes. Currently, Raza is pursuing doctoral studies in law at Queen’s University and is involved with heritage conservation organizations.
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MVRP, for the NFB
Director, Communications and Public Affairs, NFB
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