Xaraasi Xanne – Crossing Voices

Raphaël Grisey, Bouba Touré

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Xaraasi Xanne – Crossing Voices
(Crossing Voices)

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A film by Raphaël Grisey and Bouba Touré

Using rare cinematic, photographic and sound archives, Crossing Voices recounts the exemplary adventure of Somankidi Coura, an agricultural cooperative created in Mali in 1977 by western African immigrant workers living in workers’ residences in France. The story of this improbable, utopic return to the homeland follows a winding path that travels through the ecological challenges and conflicts on the African continent from the 1970s to the present day. To tell this story, Bouba Touré, one of its principal actors, returns to the heart of his personal archives. They document peasant struggles in France and Mali as well as following the personal stories of migrant workers over many decades. Furthermore, the film is a story of transmission, kinship and cinematographic geographies.  Throughout the film, voices come to accompany Bouba and bring forth the narrative of a forgotten memory leading towards the future.



In the mid 1970s, a group of activists from the western African diaspora, hailing from agricultural backgrounds and living in Paris in workers’ residences, decide to turn their backs on factory work in order to train with French farmers in the Champagne region. Their objective is to create an agricultural cooperative in a country in the Sahel region of western Africa. In December 1976 the group founds the agricultural cooperative “Somankidi Coura” in the Kayes region of Mali, a country of massive emigration. Concurrently the director Sidney Sokona makes a film on the subject, Safrana ou le droit à la parole (1978). In this work of fiction, the photographer Bouba Touré plays the role of himself. Later he will become a film projectionist and his political activism will also lead him to produce a significant number of photographs and videos which bear witness to his life as an immigrant and to the conflicts he has traversed and accompanied. Thirty years after Sokhona, Raphaël Grisey begins a new cinematic collaboration with Touré, as a gesture of transmission of an archive and a history at risk of disappearing. From this collaboration will emerge the video Cooperative (2008, Raphaël Grisey) and Bouba Touré’s short film Bouba Touré, 58 rue Trousseau, 75011, Paris, France, in which the filmmaker transforms his apartment into a living archive. The film  “Xaraasi Xanne – Crossing Voices” follows the artistic and militant trajectory of Bouba Touré and attempts to assemble pieces of the history of the Cooperative in order to speak of its present and to imagine a future that would be supported by generative African ecological practices, unshackled from the heavy weight of colonial history and entanglements.


Festival Cinema du Reel 2022 (FR)
Award Institut français – Louis Marcorelles and Prix des Jeunes – Ciné +

FCAT Festival de Cine Africano Tanger-Tarifa 2022 (SP-MA)
Award for best documentary and Award ACERCA Cooperación Española /AECID

Festival Monde en Vues (Guadeloupe)
Prix « spécial politique » du documentaire Ligue des droits de l’Homme

Archivio Aperto festival 2022 (Bologna, IT)
Best Feature Film

Festival Filmer le Travail 2023 (Poitiers, FR)
Special mention by the international competition jury
Special mention by the students jury


Festival and venues (selection)

Festival du Réel (FR) 2022
Hotdocs (CA) 2022
Fidadoc (MA) 2022
Stlouisdocs (SE), 2022
FCAT Tarifa Tanger (SP-MA) 2022
Open City (UK) 2022
Doclisboa (PT) 2022
Nicho54 (BR) 2022
Forumdoc (BR) 2022
Festival Alimenterre (BE) 2022
Festival International du Film Panafricain de Cannes (FR) 2022
Breda Photo festival (NL) 2022
Festival Mondes en Vue (Guadeloupe) 2022
12 Contemporary Art Berlin Biennale (DE) 2022
Istambul Contemporary Art Biennale, (TUR) 2022
Mardin Contemporary Art Biennale (TUR)  2022
Migration Film Festival London (UK) 2022
RIDM (CA) 2022
Sinema Transtopia (DE) 2023
Muestra de Cine Social y Derechos Humanos (MUSOC) (ES) 2023
Joburg Film Festival (SA) 2023
Filmer le Travail (FR) 2023
Fespaco (BF) 2023
True/False Film Festival (USA) 2023
Barbican Art Center (UK) 2023
One World Festival (RO) 2023
Festival Ecofalante (BR) 2023
La Mer Monte (FR) 2023
Gabes Cinema Fen (TU) 2023
Téeméri bop koñ #2 (SE) 2023
Museu Reina Sofia (ES) 2023
AdKdW / Filmhaus, Cologne (DE) 2023
Rennes au pluriel Festival (FR) 2023
Archival Assembly (DE) 2023
International Cinema Festival Santarém  (SP) 2023
Festival Les Résistantes Larzac (FR)2023
Université d’été des Mouvements Sociaux et des Solidarités Bobigny (FR) 2023
Festival Allez Savoir, Marseille (FR) 2023
Green Motions Festival, Freiburg (DE) 2023
Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (JP) 2023
16 Encontro de Cinema Negro Zózimo Bulbul (BR) 2023
Bertha Dochouse, London (UK) 2023
CinemAfrica Festival / Bio Rio, Stockholm (SW) 2023
Festival des Cinémas d’Afrique d’Apt, Apt (FR) 2023
Verzió Film Festival, Budapest (HU) 2023
Festival Images en ville (FR) 2024
Biennale AFFLUX (CA) 2024
Documentaires sur Grand Écran (FR) 2024
Cineclub AFRINALCO (FR) 2024
Cineclub Mas du Granier Longo Mai (FR) 2024
Hamburger Filmwoche (DE) 2024
Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival (TW) 2024
60th Venezia Biennale de Arte (IT) 2024
Havremagasinet, Boden (SW) 2024




Shortly into Crossing Voices, Bouba Touré, the film’s narrator and co-director, recounts meeting a European World War I veteran who recognises him from their days together in the battlefield. During both world wars those from France’s African colonies fought alongside the Allied forces as second-class soldiers, in an infantry unit known as the Senegalese Tirailleurs. This contingent had an additional battle to be won – that of their own independence, which was anticipated in exchange for military service. Touré remarks on the strong affinity he felt with this man, but, having been born in 1948, he is too young to have participated in the war. Confronted with the man’s probing regarding his supposed long-lost comrade’s youthful appearance, Touré remains silent: “I didn’t answer, I’m not sure he’d have understood”.

While a vague and cryptic statement, Crossing Voices proceeds to assiduously weave together the multiple generations and geographies which elucidate this impossible recognition. The film opens with the words “My life began many centuries ago. I am not the only one. I can’t tell my own story without talking about the character I embody.” This character is not singular or self-contained, but rather ancestral and collective. A character shaped over centuries by the geography of the Senegal River, refigured more recently by the desertification of this landscape and reverberations from the new hostile urban and oceanic ones with which it has become inextricably and often tragically entangled, via contemporary migratory patterns. Profoundly attuned to this heritage, Touré understands that the retired soldier sees his predecessors in him, present not only in the architecture of his face, but via his spirit too. By way of introducing himself, Touré tells us: “I left and I came back. All the others died. I was lucky to be able to come back.” This passage could apply equally to the multiple exoduses out of his birth region – the Transatlantic slave trade, enlistment overseas, the aiding of France’s post-war reconstruction, and present-day Mediterranean crossings – as well as a more metaphysical notion of return, such as the encounter with the army veteran. The viewer is uncertain which instance is being alluded to, and Touré may well be referring to multiple at once.

This acute sensibility towards a connectivity that spans generations, spiritual spheres, and geographic dispersal, is what allowed Touré to identify the links between the Sahel drought of 1973, and the predatory housing and labour practices affecting the region’s diaspora in Paris. In response, he was proactive in building and implementing a robust plan of action, prioritising ecological preservation along the banks of the Senegal River as a viable means of livelihood, in a period in which both ‘climate change’ and ‘climate refugee’ were barely recognised terms.

Films by directors from the region which screened in last year’s edition of Open City – The Blue House by Hamedine Kane, and Joël Richmond Mathieu Akafou’s After the Crossing – offered keen observations of the dominant account and perception of Europe as the intended final destination for those migrating out of Africa. Perhaps the most radical aspect of Touré’s filmmaking, life trajectory, and philosophy, was his positioning of Sub-Saharan Africa as a desirable, worthy, and permanent destination; his framing and cultivation of the region as one of abundance. Succeeding generations propelled away via the forces of colonialism, conflict, and capitalism, he created a new visual and embodied narrative, reversing the trajectories of, and achieving a shared triumph for, the tirailleur, and many others incarnate within him.

Abiba Coulibaly, for Open City Festival London, 2022



In the 1960s, artist Bouba Touré was part of a wave of migration to Paris from West African former colonies. Eventually, in the face of maltreatment and a crippling drought in the Sahel, he and likeminded peers underwent training in agriculture and headed to Mali to establish the cooperative farm Somankidi Coura. Xaraaasi Xanne – Crossing Voices is the culmination of a multi-year project in collaboration with artist Raphaël Grisey, dedicated to the collective and its work. Thrillingly dynamic in its construction, material from Touré’s film, photo and video archive stretching from the 1960s to the present is paired with stagings of his plays, sourced historical footage, documents and contemporary digital flourishes. Similarly, the film’s scope is nothing less than sweeping, cutting between eras and continents to place the project in the context of post-colonial migration and that era’s global resistance movements, as well as the ongoing fights against discrimination in France and for food sovereignty globally.

Jesse Cumming, text for Markers, Hotdocs Toronto festival 2022

Xaraasi Xanne (Les Voix Croisées)
Un film de Raphaël Grisey et Bouba Touré
(123 min, coul, 2022)

Xarassi Xanne (Les voix croisées ) raconte à partir d’archives cinématographiques, photographiques et sonores rares, l’aventure exemplaire de Somankidi Coura, coopérative agricole fondée au Mali, en 1977, par des travailleurs immigrés d’Afrique de l’Ouest vivant en France dans des foyers. L’histoire de cette improbable utopie de retour au pays suit un chemin tortueux qui éclaire depuis les années 70 les enjeux et luttes écologiques sur le continent Africain aujourd’hui.

Produit par  : Spectre Productions (Olivier Marboeuf) / Coproduit par : Weltfilm GmbH (Kristina Konrad), The Dark (Cédric Walter)
Montage : Raphaël Grisey, Chaghig Arzoumanian / Voix-off : Bouba Touré / Griot-e-s : Mah Damba, Sira Dramé / Récitant-e-s :
Mariam Sissoko, Mamadou Sow (Radio Rural de Kayes)
Photographies : Bouba Touré, Recherche archives : Léa Morin / Montage et mixage son : Jochen Jezussek poleposition d.c. / Étalonnage : Sebastian Bodirsky
Avec le soutien de :
CNAP Image / Mouvement, Norwegian Artistic Research Program
NTNU, Trondheim, 9th Contour Biennale, HKW – Anthropocene Curriculum, Fondation des artistes, Parco Arte Vivente, Région Ile-de-France.
En association avec ARTE France – La Lucarne

Related Text

At Crossroads

By: Raphael Grisey & Bouba Touré
In: Features

Figuring Fallow Time

By: Raphaël Grisey
In: Sowing Somankidi Coura: A Generative Archive

Soil, Celluloid, and Resistant Collectivities

By: Sheikh, Shela; Gray, Ros; Wolf, Nicole; César, Filipa; Grisey, Raphaël and Touré, Bouba
In: The Empire Remains Shop


Spectre Production, Weltfilm GmbH, The Dark, in association with Bouba Touré and Raphaël Grisey

Language of Production

Soninké, French, Bambara, Pulaar



Production Location

France, Germany, Mali


  • A film by: Raphaël grisey and Bouba Touré
  • Produced by: Spectre Productions (Olivier Marboeuf)
  • coproduced by: Weltfilm GmbH (Kristina Konrad), The Dark (Cédric Walter)
  • Editing: Raphaël Grisey, Chaghig Arzoumanian
  • Voice Over: Bouba Touré
  • Griot singer : Mah Damba, Sira Dramé
  • Speakers: Mariam Sissoko, Mamadou Sow (Radio Rural de Kayes)
  • Photographs: Bouba Touré
  • Archival research : Léa Morin
  • Sound Edit and Sound Mix: Jochen Jezussek poleposition d.c.
  • Color grading and Formating: Sebastian Bodirsky
  • With: Bouba Touré Sally N'Dongo Sidney Sokhona John Osseini Jean-Baptiste Tiémélé Mady Koïta Niakhaté Robert Liensol Ousmane Sinaré NDiaye Diaby René Dumont Madjiguène Cissé Siré Soumaré Bathily Bakhoré Ibrahima Camara Bangaly Camara Moussa Coulibaly Dramane Diaby Balla Moussa Diallo Fode Moussa Diaby Ladji Niangané Fabourama Sissoko Samba Sy Founty Diallo Karamba Touré Seydou Traoré Souaré Samassa Dado Diakhité Maro Niakhaté Fune Niakhaté Maïmouna Bathily Awa Bathily Batou Coulibaly Mina Diallo Salia Soumaré Assa Coulibaly Ara Traoré Idrissa Diara Haby Diara Med Hondo Ousmane Keïta Ibrahima Traoré Saly Soukho Mr Koïta Mr Diakhité Aïssatou Goudiam Oumar Diagouraga Demba Traoré Olivier Koné Barka Fofana Les habitant-e-s de Somankidi Coura Les habitant-e-s du foyer Charonne, Paris du foyer Pinel, St Denis et d’autres foyers en Ile-de-France Coordination des Sans-Papiers 75 Le 3ème collectif de Sans-Papiers Les occupant-e-s de la bourse du travail Les occupant-e-s de la Cité de l’Histoire de l’immigration Les occupant-e-s de la rue Baudelique Les expulsé-e-s de la Barre Balzac Les occupant-e-s de la Chapelle Théâtre Forum Kàddu Yaraax: Seydou Ndiaye Diol Mouhamadou Leity Kane Mamakagne Diatta Dame Hane Yasmina Diop Masseye Ndiaye Meme Bassene Cheikh Ndiaye Moussa Kalamou Pape Sidy Sy

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