DocLab Shorts 24 Nov at 19:45
A program of short stories that would never have existed without the internet.
Connect to your fellow world residents without leaving the house. Step into their lives, learn about their dreams, hopes and fears.
Katerina Cizek collected people and their stories from all over the globe and stored them in a highrise.
In Out My Window you can step into the lives of 13 different people, living in 13 different cities, each speaking a different language. Last year the documentary premiered at IDFA and director Katerina Cizek wrote a little bit about in a blogpost to the festival:
“Out My Window is one of the world’s first 360 degree documentaries, delivered entirely on the web. It explores the state of our urban planet, through the people who look out onto the world from highrise windows.
Out My Window features 90 minutes of documentary material from 13 cities around the world, shot in 13 languages. As the director, it’s been an honour to work on this huge global collaborative effort over the last year: we worked with over 100 photographers, journalists, architects, residents, activists, researchers around the world to bring you these incredible stories of inspiration, community and resilience.”
Julia Scott-Stevenson interviewed the director on her project last week for SBS Documentary, in two parts.
Q. How does this kind of interactive project change what it means to be a film director? It must be quite a different approach that you take.
A. Definitely, it’s much more collaborative, and in some cases curatorial, but I’d still say that there’s just so much creativity involved in terms of finding the way that the story can shape and bring in unlikely partners together at the same table – that’s been a really interesting part of the process too. Not just collaborators to make documentary content, but partners like Michael (Shapcott, from the Wellesley Institute in Toronto), the residents of buildings, city departments, landlords. Bringing people to the table around art can sometimes be a really wonderful way to mediate and create lines of communication where there otherwise might not be. So it’s also the power of art to create communication. It’s called media – it’s not a one way thing, it’s a flow, so a director in this century needs to think about it that way.
I’m much more interested in interactivity and intervention on the ground than online. I think the online stuff is sometimes obvious, and great – we have these great tools – but what’s not so obvious is how to bridge the really stark digital divide that continues to exist in the world. And not just north/south, it happens in our cities, and that’s why we’re doing a digital literacy survey, to find out how the digital divide manifests itself within our own city.”
And from part 2:
“[…] it’s one of the major goals of the project – we were talking about this sped up world, this 140 characters universe, and I want to engage with that as a maker and someone who is really interested in new technologies and how these intersect with our politics and the way that we move in the world and who we get to talk to and have never got to talk to before. I’m really interested in figuring out how we can have deep, moving, profound experiences online that are immersive, that are emotional, that are tactile. From the early responses to the site, I think we’re achieving that, I think people are spending a lot of time on the site.
“Q. It sounds like you’ve been using a lot of social media for this project – is that a recent approach, or did you do this for Filmmaker-in-Residence as well?
A. When we started Filmmaker in Residence, YouTube didn’t exist. I made a film in 2002 called Seeing is Believing: Handicams, Human Rights and the News, co-directed with Peter Wintonick. It’s a film that documents the handicam revolution and documents new technologies in human rights advocacy around the world. That film is a huge part of my life and a huge influence on what I do, and it’s also part of a trajectory I’ve taken. Technologies are constantly emerging, but I’m pretty technology and media agnostic – I don’t care so much about the tools, it depends on what’s available and what works best for what. What primarily interests me is community media, how to work with people. How can the creation of media be part of something a little bit larger than just documenting something?”
In Test Tube scientist David Suzuki shows us his theory of the exponential growth, and how earth and its population is on the verge of running out of food.
“[..]it’s not just our population that’s growing. It’s our insatiable appetites. We’re consuming more than ever before. And you have to wonder if we can carry on like this forever?”, he says on his website, which you also should check out.
Meanwhile the project lets you answer the question: if you could find an extra minute right now, what would you do?, and connects you to all the people who have answered that question in a way similar to yours.
If you really want to get behind his motives, you could download the lecture he gave two years ago for the Commonwealth Foundation.
“Consider this: in 1900 there were only a billion and a half human beings in the world. In a mere one hundred years, the population of the planet has quadrupled. Almost all the modern technology we take for granted has been developed and expanded since the late 1800s. Our consumptive appetite has grown rapidly since World War II so today over 60% of the North American economy is built on our consumption and ever since the end of World War II, economic globalisation has dominated the political and corporate agenda. All of these factors – population, technology, consumption and the global economy – have amplified humanity’s ecological footprint, the amount of land and sea that it takes to provide for our needs and demands. The consequence is that we are now altering the chemical, physical and biological makeup of the planet on a geological scale. In the 4 billion years that life has existed on earth there was never a single species able to do what we are now doing today.”
Download all of it here.
On Facebook creative technologist Loc Dao, who worked on the project, tells us what makes Test Tube so unique:
“The project is unique because of its combination of interactive video, live data, the application of the data to the message in the video and the collection of what people are thinking and subsequent data visualization of this information.
It innovates in the application of technology to an idea in a way that’s not a completely literal experience. Some people don’t realize that the word they typed in is bringing in live data from Twitter from other people who are thinking the same thing at that moment. Then, as David reaches the peak of his anecdote, you realize that the thoughts from people you are seeing grow in the test tube is growing exponentially just like the bacteria in the test tube.
Then if you go to Most Common Minutes you get a sense of what other people are saying in an interesting simple data visualization of what they would do if they had an extra minute – from the mundane eat a sandwich to sleep – currently the most popular – to call my mom.”
Read more here.
So while David Suzuki worries about the world we all are about to lose, Welcome to Pine Point focuses on a community that’s already been lost. Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simon made this interactive web documentary for NFB Interactive on a northern mining town that closed in 1988, and was subsequently demolished. Michael Simons and Paul Shoebridge are award-winning creative directors, most notable for their work with Adbusters magazine.
Kickoff to the extensive documentary project Highrise, which delves behind the myriad high-rise apartment windows that tower into the urban skylines of the world.
A multimedia portrait of the disappeared Canadian mining settlement of Pine Point by one of its former residents.
A playful look at global overpopulation and food shortages, inviting visitors to share what they would do if they had one minute to spare.
If you're interested in new forms of documentary storytelling, you're in for a nice treat.
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