The Columbia University School of the Arts Digital Storytelling Lab’s “Digital Dozen” and its Breakthroughs in Storytelling awards honor the year’s most innovative narratives.



The twin programs recognize signal achievements across the wide spectrum of media that rely on digital technologies, including cinema, video, journalism, advertising, marketing, games, art, fiction, theater, virtual reality, augmented reality and experimental narratives. In citing these accomplishments, the Digital Storytelling Lab hopes to encourage creativity and innovation while furthering digital media’s potential to break free of rigid, industrial-age classifications and evolve in ways that analog media could not.

Winners are chosen by members and associates of the Lab and celebrated in a program at Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center in early April. In 2018 the Lab’s top prize, the Breakthrough Award, went to The Oracles, a multi-platform educational experience designed for London schoolchildren by Punchdrunk Enrichment, the community and educational arm of the immersive theater company. The 2017 Breakthrough Award went to The Swedish Number, a highly innovative marketing campaign for the Swedish Tourist Association that involved pairing callers from around the world with random Swedes. The virtual reality experience “Zero Days VR” was awarded the 2018 Special Jury Prize—a collaborative workshop at the Lab designed to help spur the development of a new project. All 12 projects are archived every year in the Lab’s online gallery.

The Digital Dozen and the Breakthroughs in Storytelling Awards are judged by members and associates of the Digital Storytelling Lab: 

Lance Weiler, Lab Director, Founding Member and Associate Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program

Frank Rose, Lab Member, Awards Administrator and Senior Fellow, Columbia University School of the Arts

Ira Deutchman, Founding Member and Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program

Mark Hansen, Founding Member and Director, Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Columbia Journalism School

David K. Park, Founding Member and Dean of Strategic Initiatives, Columbia University

Dennis Tenen, Founding Member and Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

Amir BaradaranLab Member and Creative Research Associate, Columbia University Computer Science Department

William FreyLab Member and Researcher, Columbia University School of Social Work

Desmond PattonLab Member and Assistant Professor, Columbia University School of Social Work

Maureen A. RyanLab Member and Chair, Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program

Paul Woolmington, Lab Member and Senior Fellow, Columbia University School of the Arts

Barrie Adleberg, Nicholas Fortugno, Rachel GinsbergSarah Henry and Susie Kavanaugh, Lab Members

Hilary Brougher, Associate Professor, Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program 

Kathleen McKeown, Director, Data Science Institute at Columbia University

Kate Orff, Director, Urban Design Program at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

The annual awards program is presented with support from Refinery29, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Evins Communications. Awards created by Amir Baradaran. Graphic design by Jason Booher.

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