By Ray Pride

HIGHRISE, the NFB’s innovative documentary experiment, wins at IDFA 2010

Toronto, November 26, 2010HIGHRISE, the National Film Board of Canada’s innovative documentary experiment that examines the human experience in global vertical suburbs, has won the first DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. The world’s largest documentary film festival, on now through November 28, spotlights HIGHRISE’s first international production, Out My Window. Director Katerina Cizek and NFB senior producer Gerry Flahive have been awarded a Canon 5D Mark II camera.

“The project draws its strength when viewed in depth and at length. The meetings in dozens of countries, from Bangalore and Beirut to Toronto, Canada are all beautiful and the design of the piece resonates with the stories. Photos, video, audio and interactivity all work in seamless harmony towards telling the stories in a compelling way.”

– IDFA DocLab Award jury report on HIGHRISE/Out My Window


HIGHRISE is a multi-year, multimedia, collaborative documentary experiment about the human experience in global vertical suburbs. Under the direction of documentary-maker Katerina Cizek and National Film Board Senior Producer Gerry Flahive, the HIGHRISE team is generating Web documentaries, live presentations, installations, mobile projects and, yes, documentary films. Collectively, the projects both shape and realize the HIGHRISE vision: to explore how the documentary process can drive and participate in social change rather than just documenting it, and to help reinvent what it means to belong to an urban species  in the 21st century.

HIGHRISE provides a lens onto the uncharted, undocumented territory of the suburban vertical city, challenging our own perceptions of the urban experience. The project fuses the intellectual with the emotional, the creative with the practical, the personal with the political, the domestic with the geographic.

– Katerina Cizek, director, HIGHRISE

HIGHRISE’s first international production, Out My Window, is also one of the world’s first interactive 360º documentaries. 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 who harness the human spirit – and the power of community – to resurrect meaning amid the ruins of Modernism.

“This is stunning, merging the geography of the high rise and film.”- Philip Hatfield, British Library curator

“I have seen the future of cinema and it is spatial.” – Jo Guldi, historian at the Harvard Society of Fellows

brilliant” – Maria Popova,

“Seriously: Go into the Cuban apartment, click on the headphones, scroll, freak.” – Doug Saunders, Globe and Mail European Bureau Chief and author of Arrival City

About the NFB

Canada’s public film producer and distributor, the National Film Board of Canada creates social-issue documentaries, auteur animation, alternative drama and digital content that provide the world with a unique Canadian perspective. The NFB is expanding the vocabulary of 21st-century cinema and breaking new ground in form and content through community filmmaking projects, cross-platform media, programs for emerging filmmakers, stereoscopic animation – and more. It works in collaboration with creative filmmakers, digital media creators and co-producers in every region of Canada, with Aboriginal and culturally diverse communities, as well as partners around the world. Since the NFB’s founding in 1939, it has created over 13,000 productions and won over 5,000 awards, including 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies. The NFB’s new website features over 1,800 productions online, and its iPhone and iPad apps are among the most popular and talked-about downloads. Visit <> today and start watching.


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