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



The program recognizes signal achievements across the broad spectrum of media that rely on digital technologies, including film, video, journalism, advertising, marketing, games, art, fiction, theater, virtual reality, augmented reality, and experimental narratives. Launched in 2016 to spur creativity and further the Lab’s educational mission, the awards honor twelve signal achievements — the Digital Dozen. Out of these, the Breakthrough Award goes to the project in any field that best exemplifies the spirit of inventiveness at work today, while the Special Jury Prize, consisting of a workshop at the Lab, is given at the discretion of the awards committee. Winners are chosen by an interdisciplinary jury of Lab members and university faculty and announced at Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center each spring. The winners for 2020 will be announced on Tuesday, May 12.

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. All twelve projects are archived every year in the Lab’s online gallery.


The Lab initiated the Digital Dozen in 2016. The Breakthrough Award and the Special Jury Prize were first given in 2017. Projects have been selected to date from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the US.


Breakthrough Award: WDCH Dreams (US).

Special Jury Prize: Queerskins: A Love Story (US).

Digital Dozen: 1 the Road, Au-delà des limites, The Collider, Gris, Healing Spaces, The Horrifically Real Virtuality, JFK Unsilenced, The Lockdown, Queerskins: A Love Story, The Structure of Stand-up Comedy, WDCH Dreams, Where the Water Tastes like Wine.

Presented by: Yasmin Elayat, director of the 2018 Special Jury Prize winner Zero Days VR; Justin Hendrix, executive director of RLab and the NYC Media Lab; Lina Srivastava, founder of the Creative Impact and Experience Lab; and Frank Rose, DSL awards co-director and author of The Art of Immersion.


Breakthrough Award: The Oracles (UK).

Special Jury Prize: Zero Days VR (US).

Digital Dozen: Arden’s Wake (prologue) and Maestro, The Believers Are But Brothers, Bloodless, Carne y Arena, Cosmic Top Secret, Did You Mean Mailchimp?, Everything, It Must Have Been Dark by Then, The Oracles, The Space We Hold, What Remains of Edith Finch, Zero Days VR.

Presented by:  Ellen Lupton, senior curator at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and author of Design Is Storytelling; Kevin Slavin, TED speaker and chief science and technology officer of The Shed; Karen Palmer, creator of the 2017 Digital Dozen member RIOT (prototype); and Noah Brier, co-founder of Percolate.


Breakthrough Award: The Swedish Number (Sweden).

Special Jury Prize: Giant (US).

Digital Dozen: Collisions, Field Trip to Mars, Firewatch, Giant, Inside, Inside: Artists & Writers in Reading Prison, Laura Poitras: Astro Noise, Riot (prototype), Saydnaya: Inside a Syrian Torture Prison, The Swedish Number, These Memories Won’t Last, Westworld (season 1).

Presented by: Frank Rose


Digital Dozen: Absolut Silverpoint, The Deeper They Bury Me, The Displaced, Door into the Dark, Freedom, The Hopscotch Opera, Karen, Life Is Strange, Mukto-Mona, Network Effect, The Pickle Index, This Is the Story of One Block in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn.

Presented by: Frank Rose

Special guests: Adam Moss, editor of New York magazine, and Bill Wasik, deputy editor of The New York Times Magazine, for a discussion on digital journalism; Lauren Cornell, curator and associate director of technology initiatives at the New Museum, and Zach Kaplan, director of Rhizome, for a discussion on art and technology.

The annual awards program is directed by Lab director Lance Weiler and Lab member Frank Rose, produced by Lab member Luisel Peña, and presented with the support of the Film at Lincoln Center. Awards created by Lab member Amir Baradaran. Graphic design and visual identity by Jason Booher.

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