Image courtesy:  NAAS Network of Arab Alternative Screens Image courtesy: NAAS Network of Arab Alternative Screens

NAAS | Network of Arab Alternative Screens


Established more than ten years ago, NAAS champions long-term collaboration and solidarity among a growing constellation of initiatives and spaces that maintain community around film. With a belief in the urgency of alternative narratives and the experience of watching film collectively, NAAS provides opportunities and resources for the cinema sector to cultivate critical thinking and dialogue among audiences across the Arabic-speaking region.


NAAS envisions communities across the Arabic-speaking region taking ownership of their available resources and of the decision-making around their allocation.

The network prioritizes horizontal governance and measures of accountability in the arts and culture sector to achieve an equitable distribution of these resources, unbridled access to knowledge, and commitment to the radical values and practices of working together.

The network counts 23 members and affiliates in 10 countries:

  • 16 core members: cinemas, cine-clubs, and cultural centers
  • 7 affiliate members: media and publishing platforms, educational initiatives, and other networks

The network’s members are based in 10 Arab countries: Algeria - Egypt - Iraq - Lebanon - Morocco - Palestine - Sudan - Tunisia - United Arab Emirates - Yemen


As a young organization, NAAS adopts the following values that underline its beliefs and guide its day-to-day actions and overall decisions:

  1. Creating and holding space for opportunities to flourish in the spirit of Kinship and interdependence

  2. Setting Equity as the topmost value for NAAS’s collective practices of sharing resources

  3. Centering Futurity in relationships with allies and partners, which requires openness, critical thinking and transmissions of knowledges, practices and histories

  4. Building Trust within the network and relationships meditated by a high sense of accountability to one another. 

  5. Allowing for flexibility and Adaptability to regional circumstances and to change and growth.

Programs (2020-2025)


1. Granting 

NAAS’s granting program consists of four projects. Since 2016, NAAS has offered Fundraising Consultancy Services, benefitting members. The second project Cinapses began in 2017, and NAAS seeks to launch a pilot Incubation project and afterward an Emergency Fund in the current period.

Cinapses is a grant program that aims, on the one hand, to lead members into new opportunities for institutional sustainability and programmatic development and, on the other, to foster collaboration and solidarity among them. The program has encouraged joint initiatives and promotes the sharing of experiences, resources, and opportunities while activating network mobility. As such, Cinapses builds an ecosystem and strong tools to be used by everyone in the network and sector more broadly, developing film circulation, community outreach, and audience engagement programs.

Building on the achievements and lessons learned of the Cinapses Cycle 1 granting project, NAAS overhauled the grant design and allocation process and launched Cinapses Cycle 2 in 2019. Following a months-long phase of developing applications submitted in response to a closed call, NAAS members convened in “Cinapses Labs” in the context of the Marrakech International Film Festival and reached consensus on how to distribute the available funds among themselves.

Cinapses initiatives feature components such as coordination for young audience projects and co-creation of educational tools, strengthening non-traditional channels for circulating films via innovative programming strategies, enhancing community screenings outside of traditional cinema spaces via the sistering of cinema networks across national borders, dissemination of creative film programs among member spaces, and strategic partnerships within and without the cultural sector with research institutions and media outlets.


2. Trainings and Regional Meetings 

This program consists of three projects and one initiative. The Cyclical Auditing and Sociocracy workshops, beginning in 2020, enhance the financial and administrative capacity of NAAS, and the under-development Media Training project will build the discourse around alternative cinema history and highlight the role of NAAS members as agents of critical dialogue. The third project, the End of Year Meeting, convenes NAAS members, staff, and governing bodies for presentations, networking, collaborative initiatives, committee meetings, and annual review. NAAS continues its Travel Opportunities initiative, promoting mobility for meetings, residencies, film festivals in new geographical areas, and participation in industry events.

As part of NAAS's efforts to champion alternative practices in cultural economy, the organization is committed to normalizing transparent and consultative financial management. To that end, a “Cyclical Auditing Workshops'' program pioneered in 2020, whereby a NAAS staff person or consultant undertakes an auditing workshop with each member every five years. In this workshop, the members experience first hand a simulation of the auditing process, allowing them to diagnose any weaknesses in their financial systems and controls and suggestions for improvements. The ultimate objective is to enhance the institution's capacity and readiness for an actual audit by funders and donors.

In 2020, NAAS conducted two Cyclical Auditing Workshops for Beiruti member Metropolis Cinema and Filmlab Palestine.


3. Alliances

The Alliances program focuses on knowledge production, resource dissemination, and cross-sector synergy with two projects and one initiative. With an eye toward nourishing the dynamism and longevity of the network by engaging new stakeholders sharing common values, the under-development Civic Engagement project aims to formalize partnerships between NAAS members and local civil society initiatives from various, intersecting disciplines. The Research and Knowledge production project, with a pilot scheduled for 2022, will focus on archives and cultural policy while the ongoing Film Resources initiative consists of brokering access, on behalf of members, to film libraries, catalogues, databases, and pedagogical-screening tools, including subtitles.


Administrative and financial tools created and enhanced in 2019:

  • A five-year strategic plan (2020-2025), along with an assessment of the previous plan conducted by an external M&E consultant

  • Templates and tools produced to administer the allocation of the grants and ensure day-to-day operations, including: guidelines, FAQ, application forms (narrative and financial), reporting templates (narrative and financial), template of feedback forms, and the granting jury assessment criteria.

  • HR rules and regulations, updated RACI matrix, performance evaluation forms

  • Membership policy and procedures, along with a rubric for membership evaluation, 

  • Communication tools, including a website

  • A three-year projected budget, a cash flow projection tool, an audit report, and a quarterly forecast and allocation system.


Team and Governance 

NAAS practices non-hierarchical governance that prioritizes consensus-based decision-making, and strongly believes in the absolute vitality of this inclusive approach with extra measures of transparency and accountability to ensure a high sense of ownership of the network by its members. 

Formally, NAAS enlists the support of five professionals that make up its Administrative Board, that engages primarily in fundraising efforts and cultivating partnerships. 

NAAS also harnesses the expertise and insight of five of its members that alternate on a yearly basis to form the Steering Committee, which engages first and foremost with programs. 

These two committees constitute NAAS’s governing body and together are accountable for the membership policy and procedures as well as the network’s integrity and sustainability.

The staff counts five individuals: the Executive Director, the Administrative and Finances Manager, the Programs and Communications Director, the Programs Coordinator, and the Communications Coordinator. It hires on a contractual basis a designer, an accountant, a lawyer and seeks the services of other service providers (translation, website development).

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