The DIGITAL DOZEN: BREAKTHROUGHS IN STORYTELLING AWARDS are presented by the Columbia University School of the Arts Digital Storytelling Lab in recognition of 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 each spring—first at Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munro Film Center, and online since the onset of the pandemic.
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 16 countries: the US, the UK, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Israel, Australia, South Korea and Japan.
The awards program is headed by DSL founding director Lance Weiler and DSL awards director Frank Rose and presented with the support of Film at Lincoln Center. Graphic design and visual identity by Jason Booher.


The 2023 Digital Dozen will be presented virtually on April 5, 2023, hosted by Lance Weiler and Frank Rose and produced by Aaron Matys.


Breakthrough Award: Life After BOB: The Chalice Study (US)

Special Jury Prize: Dates (UK)

Digital Dozen: Breonna’s Garden, The Changing Same, Dates, Forest of Us, Life After BOB: The Chalice Study, Lizardly, Neurocracy, Obsidian, Otherly, Raining Stories, TM, Wallace & Gromit: The Big Fix Up.

Presented virtually on April 13, 2022, by Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design and director of R&D at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Aramique Krauthamer, executive creative director of Whatever; Jake Sally, COO of Jadu; and Ziv Schneider, winner of the 2021 Special Jury Prize for Sylvia. Hosted by Lance Weiler and Frank Rose. Produced by Aaron Matys; assistant producer Sean Kim. Awards created by Takaaki Okada and Lance Weiler and co-created by the audience in real time before being minted as NFTs by Lance Weiler.


Breakthrough Award: Darkfield Radio (UK)

Special Jury Prize: Sylvia (US)

Digital Dozen: Agence, Darkfield Radio, Kentucky Route Zero Act V, Lollipop 2, Lure, Masterpiece: Nighthawks, Motto, Play Inside, Remote Tourism, Scarecrow VRC, Sylvia, The Third Day: Autumn.

Presented virtually on April 7, 2021, by Jessica Brillhart, director of the Mixed Reality Lab at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies; Erin Reilly, director of innovation and entrepreneurship at UT Austin’s Moody College of Communication; Fabien Riggall, founder and director of Secret Cinema; and Frank Rose. Hosted by Lance Weiler and Frank Rose. Produced by Aaron Matys; assistant producer Sean Kim. Awards created in augmented reality by Marcio Lima, Aaron Matys and Lance Weiler and minted as NFTs by Lance Weiler.


Breakthrough Award: Facial Recognition Machine (US).

Special Jury Prize: Lithopy (Czech Republic).

Digital Dozen: Colony Sound, Death Stranding, Eva.stories, Facial Recognition Machine, Hypnospace Outlaw, Lithopy, Presence, Proto, Spectre, Traveling While Black, Un/tied Shoes, Where There’s Smoke.

Presented virtually on April 29, 2020, by Nicholas Fortugno, chief creative officer of Playmatics; Illya Szilak, writer/director of the 2019 Special Jury Prize winner Queerskins: A Love Story; Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of Wired; and Karen Wong, deputy director of the New Museum and co-founder of New Inc. Hosted and produced by Lance Weiler and Frank Rose. Assistant producer Sean Kim. Awards created in augmented reality by Clay Weishaar.


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 April 3, 2019 at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center 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. Hosted by Lance Weiler and Frank Rose. Produced by Luisel Peña. Awards created by DSL member Amir Baradaran.


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 April 4, 2018 at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center by Ellen Lupton, senior curator at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and author of Design Is StorytellingKevin 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. Hosted and produced by Lance Weiler and Frank Rose. Awards created by DSL member Amir Baradaran.


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) and

Presented April 5, 2017 at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center by Frank Rose, with special guests Karen Palmer, creator of Riot, and Milica Zec and Winslow Turner Porter III, co-creators of Giant.


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.

Announced January 27, 2016. Presented February 23, 2016 at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center by Frank Rose, with 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, and 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 jury for the awards is made up of members of the Digital Storytelling Lab and faculty from across the Columbia community:

Barrie Adleberg, DSL member
Christopher Baldassano, assistant professor of psychology
Hilary Brougher, chair, School of the Arts Film Program
Ira Deutchman, DSL founding member and professor of film
Nicholas Fortugno, DSL member
Rachel Ginsberg, DSL member
Sarah Henry, DSL member
Susie Kavanaugh, DSL member
Rob King, professor of film; faculty, Center for Comparative Media and Heyman Center for the Humanities
Magalis Martinez, DSL member
Rita McGrath, associate professor, Columbia Business School; faculty of Executive Education
Romy Nehme, DSL member
David K. Park, DSL founding member; member, Committee on Global Thought and Data Science Institute; fellow, Center for the Management of Systemic Risk
Luisel Peña, DSL member
Frank Rose, DSL awards director and senior fellow, School of the Arts
Maureen Ryan, DSL member and associate professor of film
Dennis Tenen, DSL member; associate professor of English and comparative literature; faculty, Center for Comparative Media
Lance Weiler, DSL founding director and associate professor of film and theatre
Paul Woolmington, DSL member and senior fellow, School of the Arts

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