Crossing Voices

Xaraasi Xanne

FRANCE, GERMANY, MALI / 2022 / French, Soninké, Pulaar, Bambara / Color, B&W / DCP / 123 min

- Directors: Raphaël Grisey, Bouba Touré
Photography: Bouba Touré, Raphaël Grisey
Still Photography: Bouba Touré
Editing: Raphaël Grisey, Chaghig Arzoumanian
Sound Design, Mixing: Jochen Jezussek (poleposition d.c.)
Archival Research: Léa Morin, Raphaël Grisey
Voice-over: Bouba Touré
Singers: Mah Damba, Sira Dramé
Speakers: Mariam Sissoko, Mamadou Sow (Radio Rural de Kayes)
Producer: Olivier Marboeuf
Production Companies: Spectre Productions, Weltfilm GmbH, The Dark
Source: Raphaël Grisey

The agricultural cooperative Somankidi Coura was founded in 1977 by Malian migrant workers. Exploited for low wages in factories in Paris and living in poor conditions, they returned to Mali with the goal of living independently and prosperously as farmers, acquired land, began its irrigation, and started to grow their own crops. The vast amount of archival photographs, video, and audio recordings—from the streets of Paris to the village of Somankidi—recorded over time by one of the cooperative’s founders, Bouba Touré, have been compiled here in a single artistic act to revive that radical movement of resistance and return. The film is a powerful account by a sole individual that observes modern and contemporary history as experienced by the people and land of Africa, from the hardships suffered since the colonial period, to the adverse effects of large-scale agriculture by global corporations. (HA)

[Director’s Statement]

“For me time counts a lot and so that I don’t want to die, I walk with time. I am not doing cinema, I just want to live in time so that this time even after me, remains to count a lot.”

Bouba Touré, 2008

Bouba Touré left us in 2022, a few weeks before the premiere of this film. Until his last breath, Bouba Touré had been a chronicler on one hand of the lives and struggles of those called “African migrant workers” who came to France in the 1960s to rebuild the country after WWII in the aftermath of African independence, and on the other hand of the villagers of the Senegal River in the Soninké region in West Africa. My fifteen-year collaboration with him was a process of deep listening, of exchange based on trust, and of constant learning. Bouba’s practice aimed to reassemble worlds that had been displaced, drawing lines between generations and geographies. This film, by force of circumstance, became a tribute to his meandering life and thoughts, and to the making of the Somankidi Coura cooperative project. Parallel to its distribution, relatives and friends of Bouba Touré are currently working on the inventory of his writing and photography towards an archive, to give access to and circulate his work and storytelling, and take his pan-African pedagogies to the world. In this sense, it is a wonderful honor to have the chance to present our film at the Yagamata festival as it will give me and the viewers the opportunity to imagine a tale that could start with a conversation between Bouba Touré and filmmaker Ogawa Shinsuke wandering in the Magino village and continuing in the village of Somankidi Coura.

- Raphaël Grisey (left)

Born in 1979, lives in Berlin. Visual artist and filmmaker. Uses film and editorial practices to address politics of memory, migration and farming.

Bouba Touré (right)

1948–2022. Peasant, worker, writer, projectionist, and photographer, he documented and participated in the lives and struggles of migrant workers in France and peasants in Mali from the 1970s. Co-founded the Somankidi Coura farming coop in 1977 in Mali.

From 2006 the two worked together on the collaborative project Sowing Somankidi Coura: a Generative Archive, including research, archiving, filmmaking, theatre, workshops and publications. Crossing Voices has been exhibited and presented in various venues and festivals and awarded among others at Cinéma du Réel.