Out My Window-Highrise-NY Film Festival-New York Times

Yesterday, the latest production “The Short History of the Highrise” from Highrise launched at the New York Film Festival. Highrise, an online interactive installation by National Film Board of Canada isn’t just a film though, but rather a multi-media exploration of vertical living in its 2,500 year history to today. In “Out My Window,” you can look into apartments across the world from Havana to São Paulo to Phnom Penh and more with a 360 degree view. “One Millionth Tower” is a collaborative open source redesign of a neighborhood in Toronto where the Highrise team has been working for the last two years, but taking lessons and issues that are fundamentally global.

Highrise Project-Homepage-National Film Board of Canada-001

The Convergence Program at the New York Film Festival specifically explores the intersection of technology and storytelling, a purpose echoed by Highrise director Katerina Cizek:

In One Millionth Tower, we attempt to expose this tension by having you, the user, walk a tightrope between two modalities: the cinematic, and the interactive.

Another component, World of Highrises, is the result of the Highrise team’s research on highrise neighborhoods in nearly all of the 250+ countries around the world. They’ve pulled together their documentation for you to visit through Google Streetview and satellite.

But the centerpiece of the project are four short films produced with The New York Times Op-Docs  that make up the interactive documentary, “A Short History of the Highrise” which explores the “2,500-year global history of vertical living and issues of social equality in an increasingly urbanized world.” For one film, Cizek spent weeks in the “morgues” of the New York Times visual archives for undigitized photos that hadn’t been seen in decades. Another film is made of images submitted by the public.

Reading the director’s note, you can get the sense that she allowed the project to take its own dimension, almost paralleling the spiraling development of the world’s megacities, and that Highrise will continue to grow, adapt and respond to the public’s need to understand and share about their particular brand of urban high rise living. See more about the project here and look out for the launch of the interactive experience in The New York Times sometime this week.