Case Study: Network of Arab Alternative Screens (NAAS)

Mohamed Lansari (Director of Communication and Development, Cinémathèque of Tangier) and Noémi Kahn (Assistant director, NAAS) came to discuss about their association which is redefining the shape of local moviegoers.

Network Arab Alternative Screens (NAAS) highlights the cinema by creating spaces for alternative discussions. Created after a meeting between three cinema operators in Tangier in the early 2010s, this network is currently composed of 20 members including 12 permanent and 8 affiliates for a total of 34 screens and 4000 seats. Their goal ? Facing challenges related to the diffusion of auteur films, particularly in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Lebanon.

One of the main stakeholders in this network is the Cinémathèque of Tangier. "We created the Cinemathèque 11 years ago by taking over a cinema that was going to be shut down, and we became an independent and associative group," explains Mohamed Lansari. One of the institution's missions is image education, particularly in schools, by proposing mechanisms in partnership with the Ministry of Education or neighbourhood associations.

But the real hobby horse of the NAAS is the creation of a social bond around auteur cinema fueled by an important network synergy. The various members share in particular their contacts and their professional experiences, intend to solve logistical problems such as obtaining visas between Arab countries for professional meetings accross borders. One of their recent events, From Egypt with love, in which Egypt has shown four films in Lebanon, is proof of this. "It was a way to seduce the Lebanese public with Egyptian films, to federate a new wider audience, and even today these films are broadcast on Lebanese television," says Noémi Kahn. Another convincing example of the NAAS' action is that in Nigeria there is professional training for the digitization of films. This is why facilitating the movement of members and industry people between different countries is a mission and a necessity for the network.

In Morocco, for example, the distribution of auteur films is very complicated because of the high price of broadcasting rights. The idea of the Network of Arab Alternative Screens is to create a real and consistent community of film-lovers by developing a special relationship with the target audience. "There's no typical viewer in our opinion, we just want to bring them some confidential movies which they're not used to seeing, not the last movie in Cannes that had a lot of media coverage. Finally we do the necessary work that traditional distributors do and we also advise the surrounding cinemas, " adds Mohamed Lansari. By creating this appetance, the NAAS also creates vocations : "In the depths of Morocco", a Ciné-club has been created in a small village where there were no cinemas at all.

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