networks as technologies of solidarity

For the third edition of RUSHES, The Network of Arab Alternative Screens (NAAS) is happy to engage with Rana Yazaji, Joey Shea, Leil Zahra Mortada, and Yazan Khalili in a conversation that attempts to frame the digital move for the arts and culture.  

The fierce digitization of cinema – in both its production and dissemination – expedited by a pandemic brings about severe challenges to cultural policy. We will be collectively thinking about the opportunities this moment affords the arts and cultural sector in rethinking its channels of access, security, flow of capital, and governance models and practices? NAAS proposes this conversation around the limitations and possibilities of the moment, centering independent cinemas as a space for collectivity and critical thinking, and network models as “technologies of solidarity”.

NAAS is a network of non-governmental cinema spaces in the Arabic-speaking region. It gathers cinema initiatives that attempt through their programming, events, space, outreach and operation to support a vibrant and sustainable cinema culture. By organizing annual regional encounters, workshops and initiatives for film circulation, NAAS aims to broaden the scope of films available to the Arab public and to encourage dialogue around cinema and its history with the hopes of tapping into the potential presented by the collective experience of watching film in a public setting. For RUSHES #3 we are looking forward to learning from the experiences and collective practice that the network and its affiliates have explored and cultivated over the past 10 years particularly about the reconfiguration into the digital space. 

Check out the network of NAAS members:

Joey Sheais a non-resident Fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy focusing on digital rights, information controls, and the impact of technology across the region. Her research examines the political, legal, and economic contexts of network filtering and monitoring technologies, digital media manipulation, including misinformation, disinformation and propaganda, and targeted digital attacks.

Leil Zahra Mortadais a transfeminist queer researcher and filmmaker, part of several independent media groups and political collectives in Lebanon (Indymedia), in Egypt (Mosireen) and in the Spanish State, as well as on international level. Their work has a major focus on anti-racism and decolonialism, gender, sexualities, documentation, protest movements, and migration. Leil recently completed a Mozilla Foundation fellowship investigating online censorship and content moderation. They previously worked as a project lead for Data and Activism – an applied research project examining the impacts of data collection and profiling on human rights defenders, activists and civil society organisation. They are a digital security and online privacy researcher and trainer, and have worked with various international and local organisations.

Rana Yazaji is a researcher, trainer and cultural manager who has founded together with other independent cultural activists "Ettijahat – Independent Culture" – a Syrian organization formed to support independent arts and culture, and play a role in fostering positive political and social change in Syria. In 2014, Yazaji became the Executive Director of Culture Resource (Al Mawred Al Thaqafy). She conducted, published and was involved in many research projects, most significantly on cultural policies in Syria for the book Introduction to Cultural Policies in the Arab Region, and most recently Arts and Funding – Models of Resources Management and Parallel Approaches to Cultural and Creative Sustainability.

Yazan Khalililives and works in and out of Palestine. He is an architect, artist, and cultural producer. His works have been exhibited in several major exhibitions, including among others: KW, Berlin, 2020. MoCA, Toronto, 2020. New Photography, MoMA 2018. Shanghai Biennial2016. He was the director of Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre between 2015-2019, and is one of the founders of Radio Alhara, Palestine. Currently he is the co-chair of the Photography department of the MFA program at Bard College, NY, a PhD candidate at Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam, and a guest researcher at Rijksakademie.

Jowe Harfouche is the executive director of the Network of Arab Alternative Screens (NAAS), a growing constellation of non-governmental cinema spaces presenting visionary film programs that engage and challenge audiences across the Arab region.