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projects curated

MIT Open Documentary Lab


Drawing on MIT’s legacy of media innovation and its deep commitment to open and accessible information, the MIT Open Documentary Lab brings storytellers, technologists, and scholars together to explore new documentary forms with a particular focus on collaborative and interactive storytelling. The Lab understands documentary as a project rather than as a genre bound to a particular medium. In the spirit of MIT’s open courseware and open source software movements, the Open Documentary Lab is collaborative and committed to sharing knowledge, networks, and tools. The Lab is catalyst, partner and guide to the future of reality-based storytelling.

Transmedia 101

Henry Jenkins defines transmedia storytelling as “a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.” Scholars, creators, and industry stakeholders across disparate fields have latched onto this concept, exploring its possibilities and limitations, and documentary is no exception. For documentary, transmedia offers a way to reach new audiences, immerse them in a story world, incorporate different perspectives, extend the life of a project, and experiment with non-linear, participatory, and interactive elements. The following list exemplifies the possibilities of transmedia documentary storytelling.

_Question Bridge: Black Males

"Question Bridge: Black Males" facilitates conversations within the African American male community across political, class, geographic, and generational divisions.

Question Bridge: Black Males aims to "represent and redefine Black male identity in America." The creators interviewed black men from different age groups, geographical locations, and backgrounds, and also asked them to record questions for subsequent interviewees. This video-mediated question-answer exchange was first presented as a video installation presented at museums across the country, but has since grown to include a website, mobile app, educational curriculum, book, and community roundtable discussions.

_Priya’s Shakti

A layered storytelling project and augmented reality comic book, supporting the movement against patriarchy, misogyny and indifference through love, creativity and solidarity.

Priya’s Shakti takes on the issue of gender-based violence in India through interactive comic books, art exhibits, street art, augmented reality components, and community workshops.

_Ebola Outbreak: A Virtual Journey

In this immersive virtual reality documentary, the viewer is given a 360° perspective of the worst Ebola outbreak on record

Frontline’s Ebola Outbreak included a broadcast program, a VR documentary, and short web videos created in collaboration with The New York Times. The project demonstrates how transmedia approaches can work for journalism and legacy media institutions, as well as foster creative partnerships.

_Highrise: Out My Window

In the Emmy Award-winning web documentary "Out My Window," filmmaker Katerina Cizek explores highrise living around the world.

This pioneering multi-year project about life in residential highrises includes several interactive web documentaries featuring diverse technologies and techniques, from 360-degree photography to citizen media to WebGL. A series of short videos was also created as part of the project, in collaboration with The New York Times.

_Who Is Dayani Cristal?

The story of a migrant who found himself in the deadly stretch of desert known as “the corridor of death” and becomes testimony to the tragic results of the U.S. war on immigration.

Who is Dayani Cristal? is an award-winning feature documentary about the tragic consequences of the U.S. war on immigration. The film is accompanied by an interactive website allowing people to share their stories about the border, an ebook, and other educational resources.

_Mapping Main Street

The participatory project "Mapping Main Street" documents the diversity of America.

Mapping Main Street takes a collaborative approach to create a new map of the U.S., drawing on stories, photos and videos recorded on thousands of different Main Streets across the country. It includes NPR reports, an interactive online map, songs based on field recordings, and a mobile art installation.

_Alma: A Tale of Violence

Interactive tablet and web documentary "Alma: A Tale of Violence" lets its audience members move between a former gang member’s confession and a stream of imagery that supplements her story.

This project about gang violence in Guatemala includes an interactive web and tablet documentary, a broadcast film, educational resources, and two books. It also combines different types of content: photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and video confessionals.


projects curated by

Caspar Sonnen


projects curated by

Jessica Clark


projects curated by

Co-Creation Studio

33 Pl Playlists

33 playlists, a changing roster of prominent documentary makers, festival organizers, technologists and critics sharing their top picks.

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