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Dir. Raphaël Grisey, 2008
France. 59 mins.
In French with English subtitles.


Dir. Bouba Touré, 2008
France. 28 mins.
In French with English subtitles.

COOPERATIVE refers to the agricultural cooperative in Mali founded in 1976 by former African immigrant workers who lived through the politics of 1968 in France. The juxtaposition of different spaces (the village, the fields,  the Senegalese city of Kayes, the colonial ruins of the Samé Plantation, the flat of Bouba Touré, Parisian streets with demonstrations of Sans-Papiers, etc) reformulates the context of creation of the community, as well as its daily life and its mode of production. Inevitably, Griseys title also refers to a mode of cooperation in the filmmaking process.

BOUBA TOURE, 58 RUE TROUSSEAU, 75011 PARIS FRANCE was shot in its namesakes home, featuring many photographs, posters and keepsakes. Shot in two takes, the video is led by the images on the wall, while Touré links many political struggles of the last 50 years with his own life.  
Bouba Touré began working in the building sector and the car industry in 1963, when he arrived in France from Mali. He later studied photography and film projection at the free university of Vincennes in 1968 and 1969. In addition to starring in SAFRANA, he served 35 years as projectionist for the arthouse cinema Lentrepôt in Paris, and co-founded the agricultural cooperative of Somankidi Coura in 1976 with West African militant migrant workers. His photographic, video and archive works as well as his writings (a book titled Notre case est à St Denis 93, published in 2015) relate to social and political struggles of the migrant workers in France.

Raphaël Griseys video, editorial and photographic work examines various places which are interconnected by collective memories. The photographic series and book Where is Rosa L. (2001-2006) studied the traces or ghosts of various political regimes in Berliner public spaces. Using diverse documentary, fictional or essayist forms, Griseys work also deals with social and political issues of the day, such as immigration and post-colonial issues in France and West Africa (Trappes, Ville Nouvelle, 2003; Cooperative, 2008; Becoming Cooperative Archive 2015-present). Recent films lead him to work in Budapest (National Motives, 2011), in French students strikes situations (The Indians, 2011), in China (The Exchange of Perspectives, 2011), in Brazil around the social housing complex Pedregulho (Minhocão 2011), the history of the Brazilian Positivist Church (Amor e Progresso 2014) or around Quilombola communities (Remanescentes 2015; A Mina dos Vagalumes). His work includes also collaboration projects such as the films Prvi Deo and Red Star (2006)  with Florence Lazar and the projects Cooperative (2008) and Becoming Cooperative Archive (2015- ongoing) with Bouba Touré.

Sidney Sokhona was born in Tachott, Mauritania, in 1952. He worked in Paris as a day-laborer, sending remittances home to his village before enrolling in film classes at the University of Vincennes. After making SAFRANA he returned to his home country to shoot newsreel and documentary footage, but never made another feature. As of this writing, he works as a diplomat for the government of Mauritania.


Sidney Sokhonas NATIONALITE: IMMIGRE and SAFRANA, OR THE RIGHT TO SPEAK should constitute 11th-hour addendums to the canon of post-colonial Francophone cinema. Made when Sokhona was in his early 20s, recoiling from a rash of exploitations and abuses in Frances African migrant community, the films form a blistering duo: NATIONALITE: IMMIGRE dramatizes the real-life rent strike undertaken by Sokhona and his neighbors in the Rue Riquet settlement housing, a docu-fiction of its own community in collaboration thats unlike anything youve before seen in world cinema.

Assuming the position of both French and African filmmaker, Sokhona published a kind of manifesto in Cahiers du Cinema entitled Notre Cinema (Our Cinema), wherein he decried the cultural feedback loop enabled by state funding (especially in postcolonial cases), the incessant use of African landscapes as backdrops for tawdry Western melodramas, and the pigeonholing of black movies in festival programming  citing that the 1976 Cannes Film Festival included CAR WASH in its main slate, but consigned Ousmane Sembenes CEDDO to competition in Directors Fortnight. If SAFRANA closes on an impossibly optimistic note for Sokhona (as the audience has, over the too-brief course of two movies, come to understand him), it reveals itself in hindsight as a byproduct of the French example, wherein the the organizing onscreen bears a utopian fruit thats nevertheless untrustworthy. (Sokhona alleges that audiences were far more skeptical about the immigrants warm countryside reception in discussions following screenings in Paris.) Whats universalized in the humiliations of NATIONALITE: IMMIGRE remains  or as Sokhona put it to Cahiers, Immigration has not only served to alienate us but also to teach us to be ashamed of what we were before. Any immigrant with a conscience realizes he has as much to claim on the workers side as the farmers, today.

Malian immigrants would band together to form the Somankidi collective, making a healthier living off the farming practices depicted in SAFRANA  making it a sequel both political and socioeconomic to Sokhonas first film. The laborers relocated to the Senegal river, where they remain today; founding member (and SAFRANA star/participant) Bouba Touré would later tell multidisciplinary artist Raphaël Grisey that Somankidi Coura was founded because we didnt want our brothers, our cousins, to come sell their labor in France. To see 8mm images from the cooperatives founding  vibrant young African men in snappy duds, at once relaxing and working together on a shared cane harvest  is to reckon with their post-postcolonial power. Griseys split panel documentary COOPERATIVE observes the ongoing collective in juxtaposition with the villages Parisian roots of origin, whereas BOUBA TOURE, 58 RUE TROUSSEAU, 75011 PARIS FRANCE allows its namesake to contextualize the political struggles of the time (including a tacit, unignorable Pan-Africanism) while surveying the walls of his apartment in Paris.
As the Somankidi Coura celebrated its 40th anniversary this past January (complete with an exhibition of Bouba Tourés photographs), Spectacle is thrilled to present these rare and invaluable films in their first-ever New York City screenings.

These screenings are made possible solely thanks to the collaboration of Raphaël Grisey, Tobias Hering of Kino Arsenal, Cinémathèque Afrique/Institut Français, and Amelie Davin-Garet of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.


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