Highrise: Out My Window

Reviewed by: Marcia Ruby
Categories: Art - Culture - Housing
Out My Window film review A\J AlternativesJournal.ca Out My Window \ Katerina Cizek

In the spirit of taking a bit of time to step outside of my busy routine, I checked out Kat Cizek’s multi-award-winning, interactive NFB documentary project: Highrise. Our editor Eric interviewed Kat for the latest A\J and podcaster Emily had a conversation with her. I wanted to see Kat’s view of highrise life. In the magazine she described how her idea originated, and the transformations that ensued. In the back of my mind I was also hoping to dig out some ideas for “greening” your vertical space in its entirety. My partner and I have recently left the 2-storey homestead for a bird’s eye view in a nearby midrise. I gaze out at residential rooftops to the west, two slightly higher rises to the north and I can almost see my old housetop to the east. In summer treetops become a sea of green. The sky has many moods and colours on the horizon, no matter what the season.

I didn’t tell you about the inside of my abode, and I’m not going to here. But I will share my shock and amazement after engaging in Kat’s first doc Out My Window, and experiencing for the first time all the things Kat’s interactive doc would offer. Here I was invited into any of 13 homes from around the world. What? I couldn’t just sit and watch? My first decision: Should I peek through one of 13 windows? get acquainted by clicking on one of the faces of the inhabitants? or, click on the mapped location? I went to Montreal first and met an Arabic pastry chef. It’s a 360° experience no matter whose home you are in. You see the view outside the window and you can navigate your way right inside the home. People’s stories are narrated over film and stills. In Toronto you get full surround vision of a house concert. Around the world I witnessed snippets that hinted at the brilliant strength of the human spirit through personal stories told from home.

Whatever your neighbourhood looks like, appreciating and building community is the foundation.

Out My Window can steal your time and you are always welcome back for a visit in any of the 13 homes. There was no discussion of “greening” your vertical space. No matter – whatever your neighbourhood looks like, appreciating and building community is the foundation. The rest will fall into place. The Highrise project will likely garner many more awards as it progresses. The Director’s Blog is yet another place to explore ideas around the highrise, with loads of compelling content, such as what’s around the corner now that Kat has signed a collaborative agreement with the New York Times to create another interactive doc called A Short History of the Highrise.

Marcia wrote this review as part of A\J's series on Earth Day Canada's Earth Month Act for the Planet challenge.

Out My Window, Katerina Cizek, Canada: National Film Board of Canada, 2010

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Reviewer Information

Marcia Ruby is the publisher emerita and creative director of Alternatives Journal.

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