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HIGHRISE: Universe Within

Anita Lee
2015

HIGHRISE: Universe Within


Short Synopsis

Team


Anita Lee
Executive Producer
Biography
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Anita Lee

Anita Lee is an Executive Producer at the National Film Board, Canada’s 12-time Academy Award®-winning public producer of documentaries, digital media and animation. Anita leads the development and production of NFB studio productions as well as domestic and international co-productions for the Ontario Studio. She is a multi-award-winning producer with 20 years’ experience in the industry, and the founder of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. As NFB producer from 2005 to present, she worked on some of the most acclaimed and inventive productions in recent NFB history, including Sarah Polley’sStories We Tell, which garnered international recognition and was named Best Non-Fiction Film by the New York Film Critics Circle in 2013. Prior to joining the NFB, Anita produced a slate of independent films that premiered at festivals including TIFF, Sundance and Berlin before receiving theatrical releases.


Branden Bratuhin
Technical Director
Biography
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Branden Bratuhin

Branden Bratuhin is a freelance video editor, technical director, interactive designer and motion graphics artist whose credits include numerous documentaries, feature films, television episodes, and commercials and trailers. He has worked on several award-winning NFB interactive projects, including Filmmaker-in-Residence, the HIGHRISEinstallments Out My Window and One Millionth Tower, an interactive documentary art installation at IDFA, and an interactive real-time 3D point cloud live documentary performance at Hot Docs.


David Oppenheim
Producer
Biography
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David Oppenheim

David Oppenheim is a producer at the National Film Board of Canada’s Toronto Studio where his recent credits include Draw Me Close (Tribeca Storyscapes, Venice Film Festival), the Webby award-winning Universe Within, the final chapter of the NFB’s Highrise project, and the interactive documentary The Space We Hold which was awarded the Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Award, the Best Original Interactive Production at the Canadian Screen Awards, and the Columbia University Digital Dozen Storytelling Award. David is currently producing a number of creative non-fiction film, interactive, and immersive projects and leading the studio’s immersive lab. He is a past resident at the Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab.

 


Deb Cowan
Principal Investigator, Univ. of Toronto
Biography
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Deb Cowan

Deborah Cowen is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Program in Planning at the University of Toronto. She has been active in community-based research in Toronto’s post-war suburbs for a number of years. She is the author of The Deadly Life of Logistics (University of Minnesota Press, 2014) and Military Workfare: The Soldier and Social Citizenship in Canada (UTP, 2008) and the co-editor, with Emily Gilbert, of War, Citizenship, Territory(Routledge, 2008). Deborah has also published her work in journals such as Theory and EventCitizenship Studies,Antipode, and The International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Deborah is an editor of Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation at UGA Press and of the journalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space.


Emily Paradis
Co-Investigator, Univ. of Toronto
Biography
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Emily Paradis

Emily Paradis has been an activist, researcher, advocate and front-line service provider with women facing homelessness for 25 years. Her scholarly work focuses on the human-rights dimensions of housing, poverty and homelessness; community-based research and action; and feminist participatory interventions to address inequities in urban neighbourhoods. Dr. Paradis is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, research manager of theNeighbourhood Change Research Partnership, member of the Right to Housing Coalition, and a co-investigator with the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. Her activist projects have included developing a report to a United Nations committee from women facing homelessness, and supporting the formation of a national lived-experience advisory council.


Gerry Flahive
Producer
Biography
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Gerry Flahive

Gerry Flahive is a Toronto-based writer, producer and creative consultant whose credits include more than 75 documentary films and interactive projects on a wide range of subjects, such as health care, the performing arts, urbanism, history, communications, sports, diplomacy, globalization and racism.
During his 33 years with the National Film Board of Canada, Flahive produced many noteworthy productions, including the global interactive documentary HIGHRISE(nfb.ca/highrise), the international co-production Paris 1919, the feature documentary Shinny: The Hockey in All of Us, and the groundbreaking multi-media Filmmaker-in-Residence project. His work has garnered multiple international awards, including two Emmys, a Peabody, a Genie, a Gemini and more.
As the NFB’s Senior Producer, Flahive also spearheaded major initiatives such as the NFB-Canadian Film Centre Feature Documentary Program and the production of dozens of short films honouring the laureates of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. He has worked with such notable artists and performers as Bryan Adams, Rush, the Tragically Hip, William Shatner and Lord of the Rings composer Howard Shore.
Flahive is a frequent contributor to the Globe and Mail and has been published in TimeThe New York TimesThe Huffington PostThe Walrus and The Los Angeles Times. He has been a guest speaker, presenter and mentor at MIT, Hot Docs, the World Press Photo Awards and the New York Film Festival, among others. Flahive currently works at his media arts company, Modern Story.


Kate Vollum
Associate Producer
Biography
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Kate Vollum

Kate Vollum has worked at the NFB for several years and in many different capacities. In addition to the HIGHRISEproject, Kate’s credits include some of the NFB’s most innovative films, such as Stories We TellMy Prairie Home, and Let the Daylight into the Swamp


Katerina Cizek
Director
Biography
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Katerina Cizek

Katerina Cizek is a two-time Emmy-winning documentarian working across emergent media platforms. She is leading a new initiative at MIT’s Open Documentary Lab called the Co-Creation Studio, where she is currently completing a field study entitled Collective Wisdom: Co-creating Media within Communities, across Disciplines and with Algorithms, funded by the Ford Foundation.

Over a period of a decade at the National Film Board of Canada, she helped redefine the organization as one of the world’s leading digital storytelling hubs through the Filmmaker-in-Residence and HIGHRISE projects. Both community-based and globally recognized, these groundbreaking serial and digital projects garnered two Emmys, a Peabody Award, a World Press Photo Prize, three Canadian Screen Awards, an IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling, a Sheffield Doc/Fest Award, a Banff Rocky Award, and a Canadian New Media Award, among others.

Cizek has forged unconventional, creative partnerships with diverse organizations and individuals, ranging from an inner-city teaching hospital to the Mozilla Foundation, and from the New York Times to Canada’s top YouTube stars. Her projects are also interventionist and co-creative: they have significantly contributed to conversations about healthcare policy and urban planning, as well as the health outcomes and living conditions of the participants themselves.

Her earlier human-rights documentary film projects have instigated criminal investigations, changed UN policies, and screened as evidence at an International Criminal Tribunal. Cizek’s films include the Hampton Prize winner Seeing Is Believing: Handicams, Human Rights and the News (2002, co-directed with Peter Wintonick), In Search of the African Queen: A People-Smuggling Operation (1999, co-director), and The Dead Are Alive: Eyewitness in Rwanda (1995 editor, co-writer, narrator).

Cizek has served as an advisor to the Sundance Institute’s Stories of Change and New Frontier Labs. She is frequently invited to travel internationally to teach, mentor and share innovative approaches to the documentary genre and journalism.


Secret Location
Interactive Agency
Biography
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Secret Location

About Secret Location and HIGHRISE: Universe Within

Secret Location is an Emmy® and Cannes Lion award-winning interactive agency that solves problems through storytelling for brands, ad agencies, producers, and broadcasters. The company collaborated with the National Film Board of Canada and director Katerina Cizek to develop HIGHRISE: Universe Within, the final installment in the celebrated HIGHRISE documentary series.

From conception to completion, Secret Location worked closely with the HIGHRISEteam to create a meaningful and immersive interactive experience that embodies the philosophy behind the HIGHRISE brand. A deeply collaborative approach was taken throughout the process of designing the user experience, visual style, and overall narrative structure, pushing the story and technology towards new exciting forms.

Secret Location developed seamless transitions between the site’s scripted host narrative pieces and the stories, and created custom-built tools that connect with the build of the site, allowing the NFB team to alter the movement of the layered video panels, music levelling, and display.

Secret Location also pushed the boundaries of open-source web technology WebGL, using the DepthKit—an experimental, three-dimensional photographic data-capture tool—to give the documentary an engaging user interface.

Just six years old, Secret Location employs 55 full-time staff and 10 to 20 specialists on contract at any given time. The company has offices in Toronto and Los Angeles. In addition to their Emmy® and Cannes Lion awards and nominations, Secret Location is a five-time Webby and three-time SXSW Interactive Award nominee, and has been honoured by the Canadian Screen Awards, the Geminis, the AToMiC Awards, Creativity International, the CASSIES, the Marketing Awards and the Banff World Media festival.

Secret Location is based in Toronto and is led by President, Executive Producer & Founder James Milward, along with partners Pietro Gagliano, SVP/Creative Director, and Ryan Andal, SVP/Technical Director.


Director’s Statement


Interview with Katerina Cizek

Images

Credits

Director: Katerina Cizek
Producers: David Oppenheim and Gerry Flahive
Editor: Katerina Cizek
Executive Producers: Anita Lee and Silva Basmajian
Writers: Katerina Cizek and Marty Flanagan
Composers: Dafydd Hughes and Nick Storring
Sound: Dafydd Hughes



Trailer

Press Relations

  • About the NFB

    The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, creating groundbreaking interactive documentaries and animation, mobile content, installations and participatory experiences. NFB interactive productions and digital platforms have won 100 awards, including 21 Webbys. To access this award-winning content and discover the work of NFB creators, visit NFB.ca, download its apps for mobile devices or visit NFB Pause.