Out My Window

I’m going to be in Toronto this week presenting at a conference on DIY Citizenship – Critical Making & Social Media. It’s a very interesting programme and I’m looking forward to it. Before I go to Canada I must mention Out of My Window, which recently launched, and is the first output from the National Film Board of Canada‘s long-term HIGHRISE project. It was just on the bill in the 360 category at the Sheffield Doc/Fest but you can see it right now online.

In the last decade the National Film Board have been building on their long tradition as documentary commissioners with some terrific interactive content. Recent output has included Capturing Reality ; The Art of Documentary – which looks at the genre of non-fiction itself through interviews with over thirty filmmakers including Werner Herzog, Albert Maysles, Kim Longinotto and Errol Morris, and GDP, an “interactive account of the recession as it plays out in the lives of ordinary Canadians”. The NFB’s interactive work is nicely executed, with clean design giving primacy to storytelling. (You get the impression of a community of creatives experimenting and learning about multi-perspectival storytelling together across these projects. Possibly a starry eyed view and I’ll be curious to find out more about the scene there while I’m in Toronto.)

The elements really come together in the NFB’s most recent launch, Out of My Window, the first iteration of the HIGHRISE project – itself a remarkable undertaking – “a multi-year, multi-media, collaborative documentary project about the human experience in global vertical suburbs”, led by award winning filmmaker Katerina Cizek.

Out of My Window is a lovely work, based on 360 video and intimate first person audio, which you access through a simple effective interactive device – a block in which each apartment offers an insider perspective on life expressed through telling detail in “the suburban vertical city” in thirteen different countries. The images, pacing, use of sound and music (all by local musicians) work together to create vivid portraits of the diverse people and communities of these commonplace but often overlooked locations. Take a look. And don’t miss the Directors’ Statement for an insight into how Cizek evolved the idea and developed her technical approach.