A Short History of the Highrise

  • Katerina Cizek
  • Canada
  • 2013
  • Interactive
  • International Premiere
  • IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling, DocLab: Interactive Reality, DocLab Program
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Katerina Cizeks's interactive documentary project Highrise, about living high above the ground, is also growing to epic proportions. After the portraits of apartment dwellers in Out My Window and the dreams of the future of architects in One Millionth Tower, this latest installment highlights the history of vertical living. It goes back much further than 1884, when the first skyscrapers were born in New York. Pre-industrial man already built into the sky with clay and mud: from the biblical Tower of Babel to the spectacular cave dwellings in the mountains of Arizona. The concrete revolution that marked the 20th century is now making room for a third phase: greenhouse skyscrapers. Each period is highlighted in a separate chapter, with a voice-over in rhyme (including by the singer Feist) and enlightening material from the archives of co-producer the New York Times. The interactive possibilities are modest, as in the Op Docs that the authoritative newspaper makes for its website. Visitors can leave the main movie to learn interesting facts and play funny games. For example, the Tower of Babel collapses by tapping on the screen. Will there ever be a new skyscraper on the site of the ruins?


  • Spoken languages: English
  • Subtitles in: French
Katerina Cizek
Gerry Flahive for National Film Board of Canada
Executive producer
Jason Spingarn-Koff
Jaqueline Myint
World Sales
National Film Board of Canada
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IDFA history

International Premiere
IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling
DocLab: Interactive Reality
DocLab Program

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IDFA history