Manthia Diawara’s A Letter from Yene

Athens premiere

PCAI and Serpentine present the Greek premiere of

Manthia Diawara’s A Letter from Yene 

followed by a Q&A with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Artistic Director

on Tuesday, April 25 at 7pm,

and a public screening on Friday, April 28, at 7pm

at the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, in Athens


Manthia Diawara returns to Athens for the Greek premiere of A Letter from Yene, following its international premiere in London in July 2022. Diawara’s recent film is a Polygreen Culture & Art Initiative (PCAI), Serpentine and MUBI co-commission created in the context of Serpentine’s Back to Earth programme. A Letter from Yene will premiere in Athens on Tuesday, April 25th, at 7pm, at the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation. A Q&A will follow between Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine’s artistic director, and the artist.  The premiere will be followed by a public screening on Friday, April 28th, at 7 pm, at the Auditorium of the Foundation.

A Letter from Yene emerges from conversations with the community in the seaside town of Yene, Senegal, where Diawara lives for part of the year. The area was traditionally and primarily occupied by fishermen and farmers but has in recent decades been besieged by coastal erosion and uncontrolled urbanisation. Fish have become scarce and the pirogues, traditional fishing boats, cannot go far enough into the sea, so their owners have turned to new occupations. Modern fishing requires motorised boats and large nets made from non-biodegradable wires that become lethally entangled with purple coral, and human detritus, eventually washing up on shores like woven creatures of the sea. The women who used to smoke fish and preserve it as part of a sustainable mode of living now sell pebbles to the owners of the newly built houses. The sand, granite, shells and pebbles that affluent house owners buy to build, decorate and protect their homes against the winds and salt of the sea contribute, ironically, to the degradation of the bottom layers of the ocean and intensify coastal erosion. 


Diawara’s documentary unfolds as if it were a letter written to the viewer. In A Letter from Yene, the filmmaker is not only the storyteller, but also the owner of one of the houses along the beach. Following encounters between fishermen, pebble collectors and himself, Diawara explores how their intersecting lives collectively and unknowingly contribute to the undermining of their shared environment.

Manthia Diawara says: “Édouard Glissant was fond of saying: “Rien n’est vrai, tout est vivant.” The sacredness of life is not just among humans, but everywhere, in the air, in land and rivers. We have to protect it for our survival.”

Bettina Korek, CEO and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of Serpentine say: “We’re honoured to present the Greek premiere of A Letter from Yene by Manthia Diawara with PCAI in Athens. In this remarkable and poetic piece, not only is the filmmaker the storyteller, but also the central character. There could not be a more universal subject matter than the themes explored in Diawara’s brilliant piece which we presented at Serpentine last year as part of our Back to Earth programme. We are galvanised by the calls for change and creative solutions that have come to life through Back to Earth and hope that they inspire responses to the climate crisis.”

Athanasios Polychronopoulos, PCAI founder and director, says: “It is with great pleasure that we organise Manthia Diawara’s Greek premiere with our partners from Serpentine, MUBI and B&E Goulandris Foundation. A unique film, whose environmental concept is completely aligned with PCAI’s mission statement.”

Kika Kyriakakou, PCAI artist director, notes: “Manthia Diawara’s Yene work is an extraordinary film that raises crucial questions regarding urban development in the framework of ecological disruption; a visual confession that perfectly illustrates Diawara’s perceptiveness and concerns as a thinker and an auteur.”


Premiere and Q&A date: Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at 7pm

Entrance: by personal invitation only and after confirmed RSVP


Public screening: Friday, April 28, 2023, at 7pm

Tickets: 8€ general entrance, 6.40€ (for B&E Members)
Booking at:


Film duration: 50min

Venue: Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, 13 Eratosthenous str., Athens 116 35, T: +30 210 7252895 

Information: via mail at and via phone +30 2104060088 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm EEST)


A letter from Yene is commissioned by


Produced by

With additional support from
Portuguese Ministry of Culture / Directorate General of the Arts
Heinrich Böll-Stiftung, Dakar


A Letter from Yene’s Greek premiere takes place in collaboration with

Hospitality Partners

Speed the word using the hashtags: #aletterfromyene #manthiadiawara #greekpremiere #pcai #serpentine


Activity aligned with Goals 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17