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Digital Story-Telling Award

White sign with red text that says Free Leonard Peltier. Drawing of Peltier in blackDigital documentary interventions weaving together video, audio, photographic, and textual elements have become a key instrument in the artist/activist toolkit.   Around the world, community-based artists are deploying these digital elements to tell their own stories on their own terms and to support human rights and social justice.  

The Rubenstein Library Digital Story-Telling Award seeks to support outstanding documentary artists/activists exploring human rights and social justice, while expanding the digital documentary holdings in the Archive and ensuring long-term preservation and access to their work. We seek to encourage artists/activists that pull from the strengths of multi-modal documentary and digital deployment.   Going beyond the core mission of transmitting information, these digital story-tellers create deeply contextualized, multi-sensory projects that may include still image, moving image, oral histories, sound scapes, and documentary writing.

The award consists of two parts.  First, the awardee will receive an honorarium of $2,500 USD paid from an endowment, plus be invited to give a talk at Duke .  Second, they will collaborate with Rubenstein archivists to develop an archival collection of their work.  The awardee is not required to transfer copyright. 

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Library has a strong commitment to human rights and the documentary arts through collecting and making available works by creators from around the world. Our collections document the impact that organizations and individuals have, and the role documentary plays, to motivate the thinking of others and support action that will transform the world. 

We are strongly interested in the works of individuals or groups from across the globe, whose work is not already in the collections of the Rubenstein Library. We are particularly interested in submissions from communities underrepresented in the archives.  We are not considering works by employees of Duke University, or those currently enrolled in a degree-granting program. 

This award was first launched in 2021 as the Human Rights Audio Documentary Award. 

Copyright and Access 

The awardee is not required to transfer copyright. It is our goal to make our collections available to a diverse group of people and expand our avenues of access that are equitable and open, including online access and educational use. We balance this with the appropriate privacy and other restrictions determined important by creators. You can read our statement on How We Work


None at this time

Previous Winners

2021. "Leonard:Political Prisoner" Man Bites Dog Films wins the inaugural Human Rights Audio Documentary Award.

2023. Roderico Yool Díaz for his project documenting the public trials in the Genocide case against ex-dictator Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala from 2012-2015

[Photo by Rory Delaney, Man Bites Dog Films: Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota at Crow Dog’s Paradise, 2019]
This award is an initiative of the Human Rights Archive and the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.