Our HIGHRISE collaboration with The New York Times Op-Docs Department is set to have it’s world premiere at the 51st annual New York Film Festival on September 30, 2013, as part of the Convergence Programme, which explores the intersections of technology and storytelling.
“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. The first three (“Mud,” “Concrete” and “Glass”) draw on The New York Times’s extraordinary visual archives, a repository of millions of photographs that have largely been unseen in decades. Each film is intended to evoke a chapter in a storybook, with rhyming narration and photographs brought to life with intricate animation. The fourth chapter (“Home”) is comprised of images submitted by the public.
The interactive experience incorporates the films and, like a visual accordion, allows viewers to dig deeper into the project’s themes with additional archival materials, text and microgames. On tablets, viewers can navigate the story extras and special features within the films using touch commands like swipe, pinch, pull and tap. On desktop and laptop computers, users can mouse over features and click to navigate. Smartphone users can view the four films via the New York Times Mobile Web site.
“We are greatly honored to premiere at the New York Film Festival’s showcase for cinematic innovation,” said Jason Spingarn-Koff, New York Times commissioning editor for Opinion video. “In Op-Docs, we celebrate unique voices and creative storytelling approaches, and now we’re bringing opinion journalism to the interactive documentary form.”
“Cinema and interactivity are influencing each other more and more,” said NFB senior producer Gerry Flahive. “In our HIGHRISE project, we’ve always been platform-agnostic, embracing the potential of both. This collaboration with Op-Docs has given the NFB and The New York Times a chance to further advance online documentary storytelling.”
Meanwhile, The Creators’ Project sez: “A world with a recent penchant for urban living wouldn’t be possible without the highrise. This towering structure is as much a practical way to house the most people per square foot as it is a symbolic testament to our sky-high ambitions. In collaboration with the New York Times, National Film Board of Canada’s ongoing and thrilling project HIGHRISE has produced a documentary series that investigates our 2,500-year love affair with living vertically.”
A Short History of the Highrise will launch online in October at the New York Times website.
To see a trailer of the project, visit nytimes.com/highrise