Academic Staff Directory

Dr Catalin Brylla

Dr Catalin Brylla

Senior Lecturer in Film
Job title:
Senior Lecturer in Film
Higher qualifications:

BA (Hons) Film and Video (University of Wales, Newport), MA Documentary by Practice (Royal Holloway, University of London), PhD Media and Communication (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Professional organisations:
Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Media Practice and Education
Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image (SCSMI)
Member of the Filmmaking Research Network (FRN)
MeCCSA Practice Network
BAFTSS - Practice Research Special Interest Group
Fellow of The Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

I have worked in Higher Education since 2005. Before joining the University of West London I taught at the University of South Wales, Middlesex University and Goldsmiths, University of London. I have also served as external examiner at Coventry University, and I am currently a member of the school’s Research and Enterprise Committee, as well as the school’s Research Ethics Committee.

My research aims for a pragmatic understanding of film spectatorship with regards to experience, empathy and narrative comprehension. As a practice-led scholar I am interested in how representation impacts on society’s understanding of stereotyped groups, such as disabled people, women and African cultures, which I explore through cognitive theory, phenomenology and ethnography.

I welcome PhD applications (theory or practice-led) in the fields of documentary studies, cognitive film theory, spectatorship, disability studies, post-colonial theory, gender, visual anthropology, material culture and the everyday.

Research and scholarly output:


Brylla, C. (forthcoming). Stereotypes and Spectatorship in Documentary Film.

Brylla, C. and Kramer, M. (eds.) (2018). Documentary and Cognitive Theory. Palgrave Macmillan.

Brylla, C. and Hughes, H. (eds.) (2017). Documentary and Disability. Palgrave Macmillan.

Book chapters

Brylla, C. (2018). “A Social Cognition Approach to Stereotyping in Documentary”. Documentary and Cognitive Theory. Eds: Catalin Brylla, Mette Kramer. Palgrave Macmillan.

Brylla, C. and Kramer, M. (2018). “Intersecting Documentary and Cognitive Theory”. Documentary and Cognitive Theory. Eds: Catalin Brylla, Mette Kramer. Palgrave Macmillan.

Brylla, C. (2017). “Spectatorship and Alternative Portrayals of Blindness”. Documentary and Disability. Eds: Catalin Brylla, Helen Hughes. Palgrave Macmillan.

Brylla, C. and Hughes, H. (2017). “The Bricolage of Documentary and Disability”. Documentary and Disability. Eds: Catalin Brylla, Helen Hughes. Palgrave Macmillan.

Brylla, C. (2017). “Mediating Subjectivity through Materiality in Documentary Practice”. Conditions of Mediation: Phenomenology and Media. Eds: Tim Mark, Scott Rodgers. Peter Lang.

Peer-reviewed articles

Brylla, C. (2018). The Everydayness of Painting: Undoing Stereotypes of Blindness, Disability Studies Quarterly - Special Issue: Blindness Arts (eds: Hannah Thompson and Vanessa Warne).

Brylla, C. (2018). Porn and Performativity on the Margin. Film Studies - Special Issue: Sex and the Cinema (eds: Mattias Frey and Sara Janssen).

Ayisi, F. and Brylla, C. (2014). See Me, Know Me – Cultural Expressions of Cameroonian Women. Stimulus Respond – Africa. No. 25. Autumn.

Ayisi, F. and Brylla, C. (2013). The Politics of Representation and Audience Reception. Research in African Literatures - Visibility in African Cultures. Volume 44 (2).

Brylla, C. (2004). How are Film Endings shaped by their Socio-historical Context? Part 2. Image and Narrative. Volume 5 (1).

Brylla, C. (2004). How are Film Endings shaped by their Socio-historical Context? Part 1. Image and Narrative. Volume 4 (2).

Practice Research

The Terry Fragments (2018), (director, cinematographer and editor)

Feature documentary about a blind painter and his painting process intertwined with other everyday rituals, such as writing short stories and solving crossword puzzles; screenings tbc

June’s Patchwork (2018), (director, cinematographer and editor)

Feature documentary about a blind writer, who works as an access auditor and is an aficionado of small-town history; screenings tbc

Zanzibar Soccer Dreams (2016; co-director with Florence Ayisi)

Feature documentary about women’s football and Islam in Zanzibar; shortlisted for the AHRC ‘International Development: Mobilising Global Voices’ Award 2017; screened at the Canadian Sport Film Festival, Zanzibar International Film Festival, Lisbon International Film Festival, Cambridge African Film Festival, Arusha African Film Festival, Scotland African Film Festival, Britain-Tanzanian Society, Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival, TrueDoc Documentary Festival

Zanzibar Community Impact Study (2015; co-investigator with Florence Ayisi)

Ethnographic study mapping the community impact of the feature documentary Zanzibar Soccer Queens (2006) in relation to gender roles in an Africa context;

Zanzibar Soccer Queens (2006; assistant director, assistant producer and editor)

Feature documentary directed by Florence Ayisi about the history of “Women Fighters”, the first Zanzibari women’s football team; broadcast on SVT Sweden, Qatar TV, The Community Channel and Euskal TV; screened at the Goteborg International Film Festival, FESPACO, BFM Film Festival London, Hawaii International Film Festival, Oslo Film Festival

Memories of March (2005; director and editor)

Ethnographic feature documentary about how the 2004 Madrid bombings affected the everyday life of Madrileños, including racial profiling of Muslim groups

A Touch of Colour (2005; director and editor)

Short documentary about a blind painter; broadcast on TV Brazil; screened at the Picture This Film Festival, The Other Film Festival, Assim Vivemos Festival, Tel Aviv 100% Art Festival, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela and Culture Unplugged

A Visual Statement (2003; director, cinematographer and editor)

Short visual essay about beauty ideals and their historicity. The film juxtaposes mainstream media images with archive footage of plastic surgery and the production of mannequins

Self-Images (2002; director and editor)

Short fiction about obedience to authority in a palliative care environment; used as a case study in social psychology at the University of Maryland; screened at the Ffresh Film Festival and Pontypridd Film Festival

Papa Hedi (2013; editor and postproduction consultant)

Feature documentary directed by Claire Belhassine about Tunisian singer and composer Hedi Jouini; broadcast on France Ô; screened at the Arab Film Festival (San Francisco)

Thorns and Silk (2009; editor)

Four short documentaries directed by Paulina Tervo about empowered women and transcending gender roles in Palestine; screened at the Bird’s Eye View Film Festival, London International Documentary Festival, Taipei Women Make Waves Film Festival

Awra Amba (2008; editor)

Short documentary directed by Paulina Tervo about the utopian village of Awra Amba in Ethiopia, in which full gender equality and adherence to ecological sustainability is proclaimed; screened at the London International Documentary Festival, Festival Cinemas d'Afrique, Hong Kong Summer Arts Festival, Africa World Film Festival, Frontline Club

Whispers of Time (2005; project consultant and editor)

Oral history project and documentary directed by Siu-Fan Lee, using oral history to depict the story of six Chinese migrants who came to the UK in the 1950s; screened at the Chinese National Healthy Living Centre, British Museum, Museum of London, London City Hall

Conference organisation

Brylla, C., Hughes, H. (2013) Documentary and (Dis)ability Symposium University of Surrey

Conference papers

Pornography: The Musical – Performativity on the Margin.” Sex and the Cinema Conference. December 2016. University of Kent.

Embodied Experience, Disruptions and Failures in Documentary.” Embodied Methodologies Conference. November 2016. Royal Holloway, University of London.

Blindness, Sound and Documentary Spectatorship.” Sound and the Screen Symposium. November 2015. University of West London.

Cognitive Innovation in Documentary Film Practice.” Off the Lip – Transdisciplinary Approaches to Cognitive Innovation Conference. September 2015. University of Plymouth.

Documentary Film Praxis and Cognitive Film Theory.” Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Images (SCSMI) Conference. June 2015. Birkbeck, University of London.

Documentary Film Practice and the Alterity of the Disabled Individual.” Disability and Disciplines: The International Conference on Educational, Cultural, and Disability Studies. July 2015. Liverpool Hope University.

Focusing on the Ordinary: Alternative Visions of Disability.” Rethinking Disability on Screen Symposium. May 2015. University of York.

An Ethnophenomenographic Approach to Subjectivity.” Directions and Connections across Anthropology. June 2014. University College London.

Documentary Practice and the Resistance to Cultural Norms.” (with Florence Ayisi). Football and Communities of Resistance Conference. June 2014. Manchester Metropolitan University.

The Domestication of Disability Stereotypes through Film.” Domestic Imaginaries: Homes in Film, Literature and Popular Culture Symposium. January 2014. University of Nottingham.

Blindness and the Everyday: A Documentary Perspective.” Ordinary/Everyday/Quotidian Conference. September 2013. University of York.

The Representation of Blindness in Media.” Documentary and (Dis)ability Symposium. Guildford, UK. September 2013. University of Surrey.

Development through trans-national Filmmaking.” (with Florence Ayisi). International Development Dialogue Day. Llandrindod Wells, UK. May 2013. Welsh Network of Development Researchers.

Conceptualising Practice-as-research in Media through cross‐disciplinary Approaches to Audience Reception.” Theorising Practice, Practicing Theory – Postgraduate Training Workshop. April 2013. University of Roehampton.

A Cognitive-hermeneutical Approach to Audience Reception of ‘Sisters in Law’.” (with Florence Ayisi). Women and Film in Africa Conference. November 2011. University of Westminster.

The Paratext in Dexter.” Television Narrative Symposium. May 2011. University of York.

Conference report

Brylla, C. (2013) Documentary and (Dis)ability Symposium Report Studies in Documentary Film. 7 (2): 169-171

Research degree supervision:



Role in team

Thesis title

Toyin Agbetu (University College London) Joint second supervisor

Visual Anthropology as Activism