When Canadian National Film Board publicised its interactive project Highrise , in 2009, it called it “a multi-year, multi-media, collaborative documentary project about the human experience in global vertical suburbs. We will use the acclaimed interventionist and participatory approaches of the award-winning National Film Board of Canada’s Filmmaker-in-Residence (FIR) project. Our scale will be global, but rooted firmly in the FIR philosophy — putting people, process, creativity, collaboration, and innovation first.” It sounded grand…
A year down the line its director Katerina Cizek has clearly cooked an intriguing collaborative project. Highrise is an umbrella project, that has hosts several sub-projects within it. As NFB’s website says: “Under the direction of documentary-maker Katerina Cizek, the HIGHRISE team will be making lots of things. Web-documentaries, live presentations, installations, mobile projects and yes, documentary films. We will use the acclaimed interventionist and participatory approaches of the award-winning National Film Board of Canada’s Filmmaker-in-Residence (FIR) project. Our scale will be global, but rooted firmly in the FIR philosophy — putting people, process, creativity, collaboration, and innovation first.”
Well… they have delivered! for now the four main parts of the projects are: the Highrise website, the director’s blog, the Out My Window interactive documentary and an installation in a gallery for the IDFA DocLab in Amsterdam.
Each project has its own specificities and it would be too long to cover each of them here. I propose that you follow the links below and that you explore them yourself, but Out My Window is certainly the most talked about interactive spatial documentary of 2010. It is one of the world’s first interactive 360º documentaries and it has just won the first DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Delivered entirely on the Web, it’s a journey around the world through the most commonly built architectural form of the last century: the concrete-slab residential tower. Meet remarkable high-rise residents in 13 cities and visit their intimate space, while listening to their stories. A virtual tower block is composed of existing flats that you can visit using your cursor. Hot spots and sound effects will tell you where to click to see more. Some times 360 degrees videos allow you to view a scene and move within it in motion…
This is a beautifully crafted piece of design and technology serving a community participative ideology.
Find out more:
To enter Highrise click here
Read Kat Cisek’s director’s blog
Out My Window: storyspace installation
Explore Out My Window
It is nearly impossible to resist Highrise: its sleek design and cleverly crafted text manage to engage us even if facing a difficult topic – highly dense populated areas, poor suburbia, places that we often disregard as “not interesting” can actually be fascinating… not only, but behind those seemingly all equal windows of anonymous tower blocks live people with a past, with dreams and with sometimes fascinating life stories.
So Highrise is not for me about architecture, it is not about suburbia and it is not about social background… it is about being human and inherently “life-rich”. This I believe is the strength, and the glue, of Highrise. It is about looking outside of the window to see inside ourselves.
Highrise and Out My Window obviously have a political agenda. Population growth, social politics, popular architecture and immigration are all part of the equation… but my feeling is that instead of giving us “one” answer, or delivering a clear political message, Highrise shows us diversity. Population growth is all around us, inequality too, but we can deal with it in different ways. Meeting the people that live in tower blocks is about giving them a face. It is about not having a them/us attitude. It is also about giving them a voice that can resonate within us. It is about dialogue more than denunciation.
I personally think that this project is incredibly powerful and well realised. Style, content, curiosity and generosity all mix together to give us a window from which life should look richer, if not better.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 15th, 2010