A peak into the bookshelf of Sheffield Doc Fest director Cínta Gill

The recently appointed director talks us through the formative books on her shelves, referencing poetry, music, art and, of course, cinema.

25 March 2020

This week’s bookshelf peers into the shelves of Cíntia Gill, the current director at the reputable film festival Sheffield Doc Fest.

Joining the festival last year in 2019, Cíntia’s career has also included the role of festival director at DocLisboa, another documentary film festival based out in Portugal. Described by Alexander Graham, Sheffield Doc Fest’s chair, as having “a deep knowledge of, and passion for, documentaries,” Cíntia’s bookshelf mirrors this.

A mix of cinema references as well as nods to artists, poets and philosophers, below, Cíntia details the books she’s read and reread. In her chosen titles, she selects the publications that have also helped her plan one of the documentary film community’s key dates.

Las Naves 4: Unfinished Films (bilingual Spanish and English)

A beautiful film magazine from Argentina, published by Tenemos las Máquinas (we own the machines...). This issue is dedicated to films that were never completed, and has real treasures: among other things, two ideas for films that were never produced by Jonas Mekas, studies for characters by Serguei Paradjanov for a film based on Lermontov's poem The Demon, and drawings by Angela Ricci Lucchi for another unborn film.

Pj Harvey & Seamus Murphy: The Hollow of The Hand

A magical book forged by two great artists. Three key points on the planet – Kosovo, Afghanistan, Washington DC – are brought together by tragedy and our mythical arrogance. A series of poems and photographs of travels and encounters, this book is both an open door to companionship and attention to detail.

Susan Sontag: Reborn

Susan Sontag is one of the most intelligent, sensitive and critical philosophers and writers of our times. This book contains her early diaries, from 1947 to 1964: notes, short reflections, liaisons between ideas and memories, the seeds for her critique of our intellectual history. "From now on I'm going to write every bloody thing that comes into my head."

Hannah Arendt: Men in Dark Times

I only have the Portuguese edition. A series of short biographies of men and women who lived through dark periods of history. How their ideas trespassed those times and can help us live our own, how their lives were marked by their circumstances, and yet they can inspire us to change ours. The chapter on Rosa Luxemburg is particularly touching.

Walter Benjamin: Thesis on The Philosophy of History and The Storyteller

(Sobre Arte, Técnica, Linguagem e Política, Walter Benjamin, Relógio d'água, 1992)

Again, I only have a Portuguese edition that includes those two texts. This is one of the books I've read most times. These texts are for me the basis of everything I do, from programming films to thinking what is it to share experiences and make sure we find ways to communicate with each other beyond the norms imposed by technology and media. It is a necessary book for our times.

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.


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