Open City Documentary Festival

Documentary Storytelling (Online)

Jun 15 — Jul 20
Wednesday evenings across 6 weeks 6:30-9pm BST

A popular practice-led course suited to documentary filmmakers, film academics and non-fiction enthusiasts looking to further their approach and understanding of non-fiction cinema and its theoretical applications.

This online course is targeted towards documentary practitioners who are either preparing, shooting or editing their documentary; scholars who want to analyse or write about documentaries; and people who are simply passionate about non-fiction films. Each session will include discussions of how theoretical concepts relate to formal considerations in documentary filmmaking.

Documentary Storytelling is led by Dr. Catalin Brylla, a practice-led film scholar and a Lecturer in Film and Television at Bournemouth University.

The following topics are only indicative:

Session 1

  • Documentary elements
  • Soviet montage and conceptual watching
  • The Poetic Documentary

Session 2

  • Spatial and emotional impact of shot sizes
  • The immersive actuality of continuity
  • The Observational Documentary

Session 3

  • Character profiling through interviews
  •  The function of cutaways
  •  The Participatory Documentary
  • Other types of participation

Session 4

  • Brecht and defamiliarising the audience
  • The Reflexive Documentary
  • The Hybrid Documentary

Session 5

  • The Expository Documentary
  • Narrative structure: story and plot
  • Narrative point-of-view and subjectivity

Session 6

  • Documentary comedy and distantiation
  • Parody and reflexivity
  • The Mockumentary
  • The Investigative Documentary Comedy

Wednesday Evenings (6.30pm to 9pm)

If you’ve already attended Documentary Storytelling, check out our follow-up course, Documentary Storyelling: Reloaded.

This course will be delivered via online distance learning, and students will require a computer or other internet connected device.

If you have any enquiries regarding this course please contact or call +442031084774.

(Image: Still from The Gleaners and I, Agnès Varda, France, 2000)



Catalin Brylla

Course Tutor

Principal Lecturer in Film and Television at Bournemouth University, and holder of a doctorate in Media and Communications from Goldsmiths, University of London, his research aims for a pragmatic understanding of documentary spectatorship with regards to experience, empathy and narrative comprehension. In a larger context this work also advocates for the filmmaker’s understanding of how audio-visual and narrative representation impacts on society’s understanding of stereotyped groups, such as disabled people, women and African cultures. He is currently editing two books, “Documentary and Dis/ability” (with Helen Hughes) and “Cognitive Theory in Documentary Film Studies” (with Mette Kramer). As a practice-led researcher, he has just completed two feature documentaries about blindness and the everyday, and another feature documentary, “Zanzibar Soccer Dreams” (with Florence Ayisi), about Muslim women playing football.