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Introduction to NISI MASA

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Jude Lister


"NISI MASA... Is that some kind of Japanese food?" Judging by his or her curious expression, this is how I often imagine the inner monologue of the person facing me when I start introducing the organisation I work for.

Beneath this odd name actually lies a (slightly obscure, admittedly) reference to 8 1/2 by Federico Fellini, in which Marcello Mastroianni repeats the phrase "Asa Nisi Masa".

The film, a European cinema classic, and the sentence, an incantation belonging to no specific language, both reflect the true nature of NISI MASA.

NISI MASA is a European network of associations which was founded in 2001, and is currently present in 23 countries. Members are young students, professionals and enthusiasts all with a common interest in cinema. Amongst our missions: discovering new film talents, developing cross-cultural audiovisual projects, and creating a platform of discussion and collaboration for young European filmmakers. We organise events all over the continent and sometimes further afield: filmmaking and scriptwriting workshops, screenings, seminars, distribution of short films on DVD...

We believe that European awareness can be fostered through the audiovisual medium, by allowing young people to express their ideas and opinions in a creative way. This is where the Café Babel connection comes in, as our projects touch on many subjects which affect the young "Euro-generation", such as cultural identity, mobility, employment, urban spaces, and youth political movements.

Furthermore, in the last few years we've also developed activities in film journalism. So if any of you Babelians are budding critics, check out our online festival magazine Nisimazine at

In this blog, I'm going to be regularly updating information about NISI MASA activities (you can find full details on Coming up in the next post, an opportunity to apply for our most ambitious filmmaking workshop ever: Istanbul Express.

By Jude Lister

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