Katerina Cizek

Pioneer in participatory and interactive documentary production


An innovative storyteller who works across many media platforms, Katerina Cizek is currently directing the National Film Board of Canada’s HIGHRISE, a multi-media project on life in residential skyscrapers in suburbs around the world. At MIT, she has collaborated with the Open Documentary Lab to develop the newest phase of this project, HIGHRISE: Digital Citizenship, which investigates how new communication and media technologies are reshaping the personal lives, political practices and citizenship claims of highrise residents. The project demonstrates how the documentary process can drive social innovation, rather than simply document it. Read more.


Class Visits 

October 2-4, 2013 


Participatory and Interactive Documentary Workshop
January 27-30, 2014

Explore how technology enables new forms of storytelling and public engagement. This 4 day workshop, intended for anyone with an interest in collaborative storytelling and innovative research methods, will cover participatory methods, social and digital tools, and best practices in cross-disciplinary approaches of digital documentary.

The workshop covers the basics of building media projects with partners that aim to change worldviews, lives, policies, conditions, and tell good stories too. In this highly interactive workshop, you’ll learn about proven methods, projects and experiences, and we’ll brainstorm your own ideas and projects to develop concrete strategic plans.

You’ll focus on: Developing deep partnerships/collaborations
Reviewing the scope of what’s possible in digital storytelling
Turning ideas into awesome projects
Identifying political and social goals
Understanding audiences and communities
Telling hyper-local documentary stories with universal appeal
Web-docs 101 – where to start
Creative financing and outreach

The mornings feature lectures, screening and presentations. Visiting Artist Kat Cizek will share research findings and tool-kits around ethics and methodologies from over 8 years of practice, including the most recent project, a collaboration with the New York Times, “A Short History of the Highrise.” The afternoons feature structured break-outs into small groups to discuss/develop your own ideas for collaborative projects.

IAP Workshop Sponsor(s): Comparative Media Studies/Writing, Office of the Arts

In the Media

CBC News: NFB’s Highrise web project wins Digital Emmy

The New York Times: A Short History of the Highrise 

The New York Times: Your Story of Life in High-Rises 

Wired: One Millionth Tower High-Rise Documentary Takes Format to New Heights 

Filmmaker Magazine: The New Digital Storytelling Series: Katerina Cizek 

NPR: Choose Your Own Adventure With 360-Degree Documentaries 

DocLab: HIGHRISE/Out My Window 


William Uricchio, Professor of Comparative Media Studies; Principal Investigator, MIT Open Documentary Lab and MIT Game Lab 

Sarah Wolozin, Director, MIT Open Documentary Lab


Blog: Life in the Global High-rise