Personal profile


Belinda Smaill is Professor in Film and Screen Studies in the School of Media, Film and Journalism

She is the Leader of the Environment and Media Research Program at Monash University. 

I am an internationally recognised expert on the history and culture of documentary film. My research rethinks the social project of documentary film and media by developing innovative multidisciplinary approaches to the genre, allowing me to challenge understandings of documentary histories and traditions. My first book focused on emotion, showing how for example, pleasure, disgust or hope are activated by documentary, determining their role in public culture. My recent work, including my second book on documentary, has elucidated documentary’s fascination with nonhuman animals, while arguing that we must rethink human and nonhuman in tandem.  My work has contributed to film and screen studies by consistently producing knowledge about documentary screen media as an aesthetic and cultural practice of social subjectivity. I have also written made key contributions to Australian Film and Screen Studies and written extensively on women and cinema, particularly female directors. 


My recent work continues my interest in documentary as a form of public culture. I am currently undertaking an Australian Research Council funded project (with Therese Davis and Chris Healy) titled “Remaking the Australian Environment Through Documentary Film and Television”. This project aims to investigate how documentary film, television and online media have transformed our sense of the Australian environment since the 1950s. The research will produce the first deeply historicized account of the relationship between documentary media and contemporary environmental consciousness. 

Supervision interests

I currently supervise doctoral and masters students in film studies, television studies and related disciplines. I have successfully supervised a range of topics as a primary supervisor and have particualr expertise in: women in film and television, documentary studies, environment and media, ecocinema, animal studies.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research area keywords

  • Environment
  • Documentary Media
  • Ecocinema and screen media
  • Australian Film and Television
  • Gender and Cinema
  • Cultural History and Film
  • Screen Studies
  • Human/More-than-human relations
  • Popular cinema, film genre and women
  • Histories and aesthetics of documentary
  • Film and the Anthropocene