DIG Festival 2023, first speakers and title announced

From September 21 to 24 2023, Modena will once again become the international centre of investigative journalism, hosting talks, meetings, exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances and workshops. During the 4-days conference, DIG will bring nearly 100 events and speakers to the Italian city: among them Florence Aubenas, Cory Doctorow, Nicola Gratteri, Erik Gandini, Ana Juan, Daniela Pes and many more. The full speakers’ list will be revealed at the beginning of September.

During «DIG Festival 2023 – Don’t give up», we will talk about conflicts, climate emergency and the great crises of our time, AI, the future of the Internet and technological authoritarianism, labour, healthcare, organised and financial crime, threats to independent information and how journalists are threatened, silenced, killed. Like every year, DIG Festival will also offer a selection of the best investigations and reportages, both in film and in podcast.

The event begins on Thursday September 21 at the Complesso San Paolo, with the opening of a solo exhibition by critically-acclaimed Spanish artist Ana Juan, who was called by the DIG Board to create the 2023 Watchdog, the symbol of investigative journalism that marks every edition of the Festival. The Spanish illustrator, among the most talented and appreciated in the world, will bring to Modena a selection of her best works, suspended between fable and reality, including her famous and iconic New Yorker covers. This event is a collaboration between DIG and Andrea Losavio’s D406 Gallery.

The exhibition’s inauguration will be followed by the official opening of «DIG Festival 2023 – Don’t give up» in the setting of San Carlo Church, with special guests including Italian author and former politician Luciana Castellina and Italian activist and writer Eddi Marcucci.

Here are the detailed previews of some of the themes and guests of this edition of DIG Festival:

  • The climate emergency and its repercussions, with a special focus on media. Several training workshops and panels are scheduled, such as those with journalists Stella Levantesi and Silvia Lazzaris, and the ones organised in partnership with JournalismFund’s Earth Investigations Program;
  • Algorithms and artificial intelligence will be the subject of several talks, dedicated in particular to how journalism must and is already investigating their opaque application in sensitive contexts, such as welfare and justice, or their use by police forces. Prominent guests include Cory Doctorow, celebrated science fiction author and activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the world’s best-known digital rights organisation: his keynote is dedicated to the crisis of large digital platforms and the rise of an Internet populated by content created by machines and non-human intelligence. AI and algorithms in sensitive contexts will also be discussed by Gabriel Geiger and Pierluigi Bizzini, respectively a journalist at Lighthouse Reports and a fellow at AlgorithmWatch, two organisations that have distinguished themselves in recent years for their investigative work on digital forms of power;
  • The topic of labour and its current transformation. Italian-Swedish director Erik Gandini will presents his latest film After Work, while Francesca Coin, a sociologist and author of the successful essay Le grandi dimissioni (Einaudi), will delve into the topic with the help of workers, activists, philosophers and other guests;
  • Corruption, organised crime, and the freedom of journalists and judges to investigate. Among these events, a very special talk with Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, in collaboration with FNSI, on Saturday September 23.

This year there will be as many as three exhibitions at DIG Festival – all free of charge: in addition to Ana Juan’s solo exhibition, satirical cartoonists will be on the spotlight thanks to a new partnership with the European Cartoon Awards, a spin-off of the European Press Prize, the continent’s most prestigious journalism award; the war in Ukraine will be at the centre of Double Exposure, an exhibition by Kyiv-based artist Inga Levi, who will present new drawings from her war diary. The exhibition, in collaboration with Grabinski Point, also includes a video investigation by Forensic Architecture.

This year, the Festival will again host 12 DIG Academy sessions – free, advanced training workshops open to all hosted within the University of Modena’s Department of Law. Among this year’s lecturers: Jacopo Ottaviani, Lorenzo Bagnoli and Giulio Rubino from IRPI Media, Jonathan Zenti, Alberto Puliafito, Stella Levantesi, Laura Silvia Battaglia, Gabriel Geiger, Antonella Napolitano, Matteo Moschella.

The international DIG Awards – the competition that attracted record participation again this year, with some 400 entries from around the world – will also be a focal point of DIG Festival. The awards will be assigned by DIG’s international jury, which includes authors and producers from the world’s leading brands of investigative journalism and documentary filmmaking.

Our 2023 Jury President will be Florence Aubenas, writer, journalist and great correspondent for Libération, Le Nouvel Observateur and Le Monde. A point of reference for international journalists, Aubenas was held hostage for nearly five months in Baghdad in 2005. In 2023, she returned to bookstores with Ici et ailleurs, a diary of eight years of crisis, from the Gilets Jaunes to the war in Ukraine, through incisive testimony and a unique human gaze.

Florence Aubenas will oversee the work of a high-profile Jury. Alongside returning jurors Marco Nassivera, Tim Travers Hawkins, Andrea Scrosati and Maria Bonsanti, we will have for the first time in Modena photographer and filmmaker Coşkun Aşar, from Turkey; Francesca Panetta, Director of the AKO Storytelling Institute in London and former executive editor of the Guardian’s virtual reality studio; award-winning investigative journalist and expert in OSINT techniques Manisha Ganguly, from India; senior investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker Axel Björklund, from Sweden; and Édouard Perrin, well-known investigative reporter and freelance documentary filmmaker, from France.

In addition to assigning the DIG Awards in 5 video categories (Short, Reportage and Investigative Medium, and Reportage and Investigative Long), the DIG 2023 Jury will also pick a winning project for the DIG Pitch Award, which gives a prize of up to 15 thousand euros in funding for an investigative documentary. The DIG Pitch is supported by the Matteo Scanni Foundation, established in Milan to keep alive and spread the passion for investigative journalism of Matteo Scanni, President of DIG until 2022, the year he prematurely passed away.

«DIG Festival 2023 – Don’t Give up» will also give increasing prominence to the audio and podcast category, with a dedicated Jury of equally distinguished members – alongside Angelo Miotto, we’ll have podcast designer Jonathan Zenti, investigative journalist and producer Adèle Humbert, RadioRai author and editor Giulia Nucci, and Andrea De Cesco, director of the Chora Academy. They will also be the protagonists of panels and specific events dedicated to journalism and podcasting.

And then, some music! DIG Festival will bring to Modena the talent of Daniela Pes, singer-songwriter, musician and electronic music composer with a jazz background. In 2023, Pes won the prestigious Targa Tenco as Best Debut Album with her surprising Spira.  In the evening of Sunday 24, Pes’ music will come to life in a unique location particularly suited to her mysterious sound, that mixes the ancient with the experimental: the Baroque Church of San Carlo.

«Now more than ever, we have an urgent need to make a diagnosis. We need it to understand where to look, to know what to take care of. This year at DIG, together with our audience, we’ll discover the opinions of those who have found out, dug in, listened. We made precise choices» says Alberto Nerazzini, investigative journalist and President of DIG.

«Our goal at DIG is to offer a larger view to those who participate, giving them a magnifying glass, a surgically precise one, to analyse where an alteration, a mutation, a piece of evil is hiding. It is still worth it: if Gramsci’s indifferent ones are still there to be hated, ‘DIG Festival 2023 – Don’t give up’ wants to defeat the ones that gave up. Because if indifference is an incurable evil, resignation still is not».

«Indifference is one of the evils of our times, and DIG wants to be an antidote to these resigned times», says Andrea Bortolamasi, councillor for Culture of the Municipality of Modena, which has strongly supported the project since 2020 together with the Modena Foundation and the Emilia-Romagna Region. «Participation, confrontation, investigation are the key elements of a program of the highest quality, which brings to the city the best of investigative journalism, in a festival made by a continuous contamination of cultural languages, from music to figurative and visual arts».

The full program of the 2023 edition will be unveiled starting in the coming weeks at dig-awards.org and on DIG’s social channels.

Practical Info

In less than ten years, DIG Festival has become the most important festival devoted to investigative journalism and contemporary culture in Europe. It is a global event for reporters, investigators, filmmakers, and independent producers, and is a unique experience of in-depth, enriching, and informative reporting also for its ever-growing generalist audience. 

The locations of DIG

DIG Festival 2023 will be held in the spaces of San Carlo College, the Astra cinema and the San Paolo Complex, including the adjacent spaces of Unimore’s Department of Law, in the heart of the city’s historic centre.

DIG Festival Partners 2023

DIG Festival is an independent event. Funding comes almost exclusively from public entities: in 2023, from the Emilia-Romagna Region and Film Commission ER, the City of Modena and Modena Foundation. Also supporting DIG are Fondazione Matteo Scanni, Fondazione e Ordine Giornalisti Emilia-Romagna, Fnsi and Aser, and Coop Alleanza 3.0. Main partners include Fondazione Collegio San Carlo, Unimore, FEM and Festivalfilosofia, GIJN, joined by Librerie Coop, Bunker, Tintoria Emiliana, Galleria D406, Squadro Stamperia Galleria d’Arte, JournalismFund, European Press Prize, Grabinski Point, Cinema Astra, Juta, Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna, Sartoria Comunicazione.

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