Katerina Cizek is a Canadian documentary director and a pioneer in digital documentaries.


Main article: Highrise (documentary)

From 2008-2015, [1] Cizek directed the National Film Board of Canada ‘s Highrise series on life in residential skyscrapers, including the 2010 world’s first 360 degree web documentary Out My Window , winner of the inaugural IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling the International Documentary film Festival Amsterdam and an International Digital Emmy for best digital program: non-fiction, [2] [3] and the 2011 webdoc One Millionth Tower , qui lets users explore a highrise complex in 3D virtual space , as Toronto residents re -imagine their neighborhood. [4][5]

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 a short film by Cizek- Mud , Concrete and Glass -with pictures culled from the New York Times’ visual archives, that are “intended to evoke a chapter in a storybook, with rhyming narration and photographs brought to life with intricate animation. ” The fourth short film, Home , is made with user-submitted images. The interactive site will include additional materials, text and microgames. It premiered as part of theFilm Society of Lincoln Center ‘s New York Film Festival program Convergence on September 30, 2013 and online at NYTimes.com in October. [6] [7] In April 2014, Cizek received a Peabody Award for A Short History of the Highrise , [8] Followed by a News & Documentary Emmy Award in the fall of 2014. [9]

Cizek collaborated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ‘s OpenDocLab unites to Develop the final output in the Highrise project called Expired Universe Within . As part of the MIT’s Visiting Artists Program, they are working with residents and local residents in the area of ​​high-rise communities. [10]

Universe Within is the final iteration of NFB Highrise, directed by Cizek and co-created with Digital Agency Secret Location and Dr. Deborah Cowen and Dr. Emily Paradis. On March 8, 2016, Universe Awarded for Best Original Interactive Production Produced for Digital Media at the 4th Canadian Screen Awards . [11] At the 2016 Webby Awards , Universe Within the Webby for Online Film & Video / Best Use of Interactive Video. [12]


Prior to working on Highrise , Cizek directed an NFB crossmedia documentary project about life inside Toronto St. Michael’s Hospital . Called Filmmaker-in-Residence , it garnered a Webby Award for Best Documentary Series. [13] [14]

Other credits

Prior to joining the NFB, his films included Seeing is Believing: Handicams, Human Rights and the News , co-directed with Peter Wintonick .

Research and teaching

Cizek and NFB producer Gerry Flahive, co- authored on academic research with Roger Kiel on changing cities, with the Global Suburbanisms program at York University . [13] Cizek collaborates closely with an academic team at the University of Toronto on the final iteration of HIGHRISE, a joint book and documentary project on Digital Citizenship in the Global Suburbs. [15] Cizek is a long-time teacher at the annual ESoDoc workshops. She teaches new media approaches to documentary creation. [16] She is currently heading up a new research and production initiative at the MIT Open Documentary Lab.

Personal life

Cizek was born in Waterloo, Ontario . The daughter of Czech immigrants, she now lives in the Roncesvalles district in Toronto. Cizek has a degree in anthropology from McGill University in Montreal and worked as an independent filmmaker before joining the National Film Board of Canada , where she worked as a filmmaker-in-residence. Her father Jiří Čížek has taught quantum physics at the University of Waterloo . [16] He is known for introducing Coupled cluster theory. [17]


  1. Jump up^ Budds, Diana. “7 Years In The Making, This Documentary Reveals The Untold Stories Of High-Rise Buildings” . Fast Company, CoDesign . Retrieved 22 June 2015 .
  2. Jump up^ Brooks, Brian (26 November 2010). “IDFA Opener” Position Among the Stars “Takes Top Festival Prize” . Indie Wire . Retrieved 29 November2010 . permanent dead link ]
  3. Jump up^ “NFB Highrise Digital Emmy Project Project Wins” . CBC News . 4 April 2011 . Retrieved 4 April 2011 .
  4. Jump up^ Watercutter, Angela (5 November 2011). “Premiere: One Millionth High-Rise Tower Documentary Takes Format to New Heights” . Wired News . Retrieved 29 November 2011 .
  5. Jump up^ Gee, Marcus (7 December 2011). “Aging apartment towers can be humanized” . Globe and Mail . Retrieved December 8, 2011 .
  6. Jump up^ “A Short History of the Highrise: An Interactive Documentary by Katerina Cizek Launching in October” . The New York Times . Retrieved 9 September 2013 .
  7. Jump up^ “Immersive multi-media series on highrise buildings at New York Film Festival” (Press release). Canadian Architect. September 1, 2013 . Retrieved 9 September 2013 .
  8. Jump up^ Kennedy, John R. (2 April 2014). ” ‘ Orphan Black’ NFB win Peabody Awards” . Global News . Retrieved 3 April 2014 .
  9. Jump up^ Cummins, Juliana. “NFB, Herman ‘s house win Emmy Awards” . Playback . Retrieved 19 October 2014 .
  10. Jump up^ Ng-See-Quan, Danielle (17 May 2013). “NFB filmmaker named MIT visiting artist” . Reelscreen . Brunico Communications . Retrieved 14 June 2013 .
  11. Jump up^ Mullen, Pat (9 March 2016). “First Wave of Documentary / Non-Fiction / Winners Canadian Screen Award Winners” . POV Magazine . Retrieved 10 March 2016 .
  12. Jump up^ Wong, Jessica (26 April 2016). “2016 Webby Awards winners include The Weeknd, the NFB” . CBC News . Retrieved 10 May 2016 .
  13. ^ Jump up to:b Dixon, Guy (13 January 2011). “NFB doc glimpses into immigrants’ high-rise world” . Globe and Mail . Retrieved 17 January 2011 .
  14. Jump up^ Martin, James. “DIFFERENT KIND OF FILMMAKING” . Alumni Profile. McGill University . Retrieved 17 January 2011 .
  15. Jump up^ http://news.artsci.utoronto.ca/all-news/how-u-of-t-researchers-helped-shape-highrise-nfbs-interactive-documentary/
  16. ^ Jump up to:b Scrivener, Leslie (15 October 2010). “Online, a window on the world” . Toronto Star . Retrieved 24 November 2010 .
  17. Jump up^ J. Čížek,On the Correlation Problem in Atomic and Molecular Systems. Calculation of Wavefunction Components in Ursell-Type Expansion Using Quantum-Field Theoretical Methods, The Journal of Chemical Physics45, 50 (1966)