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“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?

Quick facts

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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French version here | Version française ici.

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  • About the NFB

    Founded in 1939, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a one-of-a-kind producer, co-producer and distributor of distinctive, engaging, relevant and innovative documentary and animated films. As a talent incubator, it is one of the world’s leading creative centres. The NFB has enabled Canadians to tell and hear each other’s stories for over eight decades, and its films are a reliable and accessible educational resource. The NFB is also recognized around the world for its expertise in preservation and conservation, and for its rich and vibrant collection of works, which form a pillar of Canada’s cultural heritage. To date, the NFB has produced more than 14,000 works, 6,500 of which can be streamed free of charge at nfb.ca. The NFB and its productions and co-productions have earned over 7,000 awards, including 11 Oscars and an Honorary Academy Award for overall excellence in cinema.