Killswitch (film)

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Killswitch poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byAli Akbarzadeh
Written byChristopher Dollar
Produced byJeffrey Horn
Edited by
  • Prichard Smith
  • CJ Sato
  • Ali Akbarzadeh
Release date
  • October 2014 (2014-10) (Woodstock)
Running time
74 minutes

Killswitch is a documentary film about the battle for control over the Internet. The movie is a collaboration between director Ali Akbarzadeh, producer Jeffrey Horn, writer Christopher Dollar[1] and Akorn Entertainment.[2] It premiered at the Woodstock Film Festival in October 2014, where it won the James K. Lyons Award for Best Editing of a feature documentary [3] and then made its international debut, playing alongside Citizenfour at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in November 2014.[4] In 2015, it screened on Capitol Hill, as well as film festivals on four continents (Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America).[2][5][6] Theatrical release was on March 1, 2015. Kathy Gill of GeekWire writes that "Killswitch is much more than a dry recitation of technical history. Director Ali Akbarzadeh, producer Jeff Horn, and writer Christopher Dollar created a human centered story. A large part of that connection comes from Lessig and his relationship with Swartz."[7]


Lawrence Lessig, Tim Wu, and Peter Ludlow frame the story of two young hackers, Aaron Swartz and Edward Snowden. Swartz and Snowden both release information and take on the system, putting them directly in the cross-hairs of some of the most powerful interests in the world. Swartz, Lessig's protégé, downloads many academic journal articles from JSTOR, for which he is arrested. Swartz also successfully leads the charge in defeating the Stop Online Piracy Act, but he commits suicide while facing disproportionate prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Shortly after this, Snowden observes systemic mass surveillance of the public by the National Security Agency, and decides to leak the information. He is forced to flee the country and ponder his next move.[8][9][10]

Capitol Hill screening[edit]

In February 2015, Killswitch was invited to screen at the Capitol Visitor's Center in Washington DC by Congressman Alan Grayson. The event was held on the eve of the Federal Communications Commission's decision to reclassify Internet service providers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Congressman Grayson, Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig, and Free Press CEO Craig Aaron paid homage to Aaron Swartz (who committed suicide in January 2013 while under prosecution for various computer crimes) and spoke about the importance of protecting the free and open Internet.[11][10]


  • U.S. Representative Alan Grayson: "One of the most honest accounts of the battle to control the Internet – and access to information itself."[5]
  • Mic: "One of the best documentaries to watch in 2017. Highlights aspects of the web few take time to think about, and serves as a thought-provoking film on the future of information."[12]
  • Metro Silicon Valley: "Some of the most lapidary use of found footage this side of The Atomic Café."[13]
  • Orange County Register: "Anyone who values unfettered access to online information is apt to be captivated by Killswitch, a gripping and fast-paced documentary."[14]
  • GeekWire: "Killswitch weaves together ancient and recent history in a way that makes heady issues like network neutrality and SOPA connect with non-technical people."[15]

Film festival premieres[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Christopher Dollar". IMDb. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Battle for Internet Control fuels O.C. produced Movie". Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  3. ^ "2014 Woodstock Film Festival Honors Darren Aronofsky, Announces Audience Awards". Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  4. ^ "International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam".
  5. ^ a b "Grayson Screen Award-Winning "Killswitch" Documentary". Archived from the original on February 27, 2015.
  6. ^ Swegles, Fred. "Battle for Internet Control Fuels O.C. -produced Movie". Orange County Register. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  7. ^ Gill, Kathy. "Lawrence Lessig at 'Killswitch' Seattle Premiere: Money, Politics, and the Battle for the Internet". GeekWire. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  8. ^ von Busack, Richard. "Breaking the Internet: 'Killswitch' Screens at Cinequest". Metro Silicon Valley. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
  9. ^ Swegles, Fred. "Battle for Internet Control Fuels OC - produced Movie". Orange County Register. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  10. ^ a b "The Price That You Pay for Rocking The Boat". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  11. ^ Grayson, Alan. "Grayson Screen Award Winning "Killswitch" Documentary". Congressman Grayson's House of Rep Official Web Page. Archived from the original on February 27, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  12. ^ Mic. "25 of the best documentaries to watch on Netflix in 2017". Mic. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  13. ^ "Breaking the Internet: "Killswitch" Screens at Cinequest". Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  14. ^ Swegles, Fred. "Battle for Internet Control Fuels O.C.-produce Movie". Orange Country Register.
  15. ^ Gill, Kathy. "Lawrence Lessig at 'Killswitch' Seattle Premiere: Money Politics and the Battle for the Internet". GeekWire. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  16. ^ "Killswitch - IDFA". Archived from the original on April 16, 2015. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  17. ^ "2014 Woodstock Film Festival online schedule and tickets". Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  18. ^ "Cinequest - Killswitch". Cinequest Film Festival. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  19. ^ "Killswitch screening notice". Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  20. ^ "ZAGREBDOX International Documentary Film Festival listing for Killswitch". Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  21. ^ "Newport Beach Festival listing".

External links[edit]