|Slogan||The Towers in the World
World in the Towers
|Type of site||Web documentary|
|Owner||National Film Board of Canada|
Highrise is a multi-year, multimedia documentary project about life in residential highrises, directed by Katerina Cizek and produced by Gerry Flahive for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). The project, which began in 2009, includes the web documentaries Out My Window and One Millionth Tower.
In March 2013, the NFB and The New York Times announced a partnership entitled A Short History of the Highrise, which will create four short documentaries about life in highrise buildings, utilizing images from the newspaper's photo archives for the first three films, and user-submitted images for the final film.
Until mid-2014, Cizek will collaborate with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenDocLab unit to develop the next production in the Highrise project. As part of MIT’s Visiting Artists Program, she will work with scholars and apartment residents to ask how new technological forms are reshaping personal lives in suburban high-rise communities.
Out My Window (2010)
Out My Window is a 2010 web documentary exploring the lives of families living in high-rise buildings in 13 cities around the world. The website is produced by National Film Board of Canada as part its collaborative documentary project Highrise. Out My Window was shot in Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Havana, São Paulo, Amsterdam, Prague, Istanbul, Beirut, Bangalore, Phnom Penh, Tainan, and Johannesburg.
Cizek spent one year researching the project prior to starting production in August 2009. To locate characters and stories, Cizek and a researcher worked with a network of journalists, filmmakers and photographers around the world, directing them remotely from Toronto via email and Skype. However, not all communication was so instantaneous: a story from Havana had to be hand-delivered by the photographer, months after it was commissioned, without the chance for any direction from Cizek. Overall, 22 stories had been commissioned, with 9 stories dropped for various reasons during the production process.
Photos were digitally combined to create 360-degree scenes, in which viewers can explore the lives of apartment inhabitants, browsing interiors or navigating deeper to view embedded stories. Imaginarius, a Kitchener, Ontario-based multimedia production company, worked with over 1,000 photos to produce the 360-degree effect.
The site went live in October 2010. Out My Window was also presented at International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in November 2010. It has also been licensed to the SBS Australia website.
Out My Window received the inaugural IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling. In April 2011, it received the International Digital Emmy Award in the category of digital program: non-fiction. In April 2011, the web documentary was nominated for a Webby Award for Best Use of Photography in the Websites category. On May 10, 2011, Out My Window received the New Media Award at the One World Media Awards.
One Millionth Tower (2011)
One Millionth Tower is a 2011 NFB interactive web documentary by Katerina Cizek that gives people living in residential skyscrapers the opportunity to work with architects and animators to reimagine their homes in 3D virtual space. The project focuses on two high-rise apartment buildings in Etobicoke. The webdoc allows users to navigate though their high-rise neighborhood, displaying the current state of urban decay, then activating features to show how residents would change their world, such as an animation showing where a new playground or garden would go. One Millionth Tower also features images from Flickr, Google Street Views and real-time weather data from Yahoo. It was produced by the Gerry Flahive for the NFB as part of its Highrise documentary project. Cizek's previous work in the Highrise series was the webdoc Out My Window.
One Millionth Tower was originally planned by Cizek as a linear animated documentary about reinvigorating urban housing complexes, showcasing residents’ ideas for improving their homes in the tower, but evolved into an interactive project in 3-D space. One Millionth Tower was influenced by the NFB's Challenge for Change program for participatory media, which put media creation into the hands of citizens in the 1960s and 70s.
One Millionth Tower premiered simultaneously on Wired.com and the Mozilla Festival in London on November 5, 2011. Beginning January 2012, excerpts were being screened in Toronto subway stations. 
A Short History of the Highrise (2013)
A Short History of the Highrise is an interactive documentary that "explores the 2,500-year global history of vertical living and issues of social equality in an increasingly urbanized world." The centerpiece of the project is four short films: Mud, Concrete and Glass have been created with images from The New York Times's visual archives, while a fourth film, Home, is being made with user-submitted images. The interactive site will incorporate the films and also offer additional archival materials, text and microgames. The series is produced by Op-Docs, the Times' editorial department’s forum for short, opinionated documentaries, and the NFB, as part of its HIGHRISE project.
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- "A Short History of the Highrise: An interactive documentary by Katerina Cizek launching in October". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
- "Immersive multi-media series on residential highrise buildings to debut at New York Film Festival" (Press release). Canadian Architect. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
- Official website (requires Adobe Flash)
- Galloway, Matt. "Highrise Living" (Audio interviews with Katerina Cizek and two residents). Metro Morning. CBC Radio One. Retrieved 10 January 2012.