Open City Documentary Festival

7 – 13 September 2022
in London

Documentary Storytelling (Online)

Price £150

Location Online Distance Learning, Duration Wednesday evenings across 6 weeks 6:30-9pm BST, Dates  Jan 11 — Feb 15

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 Principal 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


“I enjoyed the course. It was my first documentary course, and the final result was positive. I have learned a lot and have much more to learn. The programme was good for a short course—dynamic classes balanced between the contents, debate and participation.” – Ricardo Sá Nogueira, previous student

Wednesday Evenings (6.30pm to 9pm), 11th January to 15th February.

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.

1x Universal Credit bursary place is available for this course. Please see our bursary policy here.

Booking closes at 12pm on 11th January.

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.