My­conos’s Cine Manto, the per­fect refuge from the madding crowds

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY ALEXAN­DRA TZAVELLA *

Sit­u­ated in the green­est neigh­bor­hood of the main town Hora, Cine Manto – ranked by the UK’s In­de­pen­dent among the most beau­ti­ful open-air cin­e­mas in the world – is tucked away among ole­an­der, olive, cy­press, palm, pome­gran­ate and pine trees where the lo­cal ci­cadas per­form their usual sum­mer-long con­certs.

Although it is named after Manto Mavroge­nous, a hero­ine of the 1821 Greek Rev­o­lu­tion, for lo­cals the cinema’s lo­ca­tion will al­ways be known as the Gar­den of Mele­topou­los. Pri­vately held un­til the mid­dle of the last cen­tury, it was do­nated to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of My­conos in 1957 by the lawyer, bene­fac­tor and founder of the town’s pub­lic li­brary Ioan­nis Mele­topou­los.

Its po­ten­tial re­mained un­tapped for 40 years un­til it be­gan to op­er­ate as a mu­nic­i­pal cinema in 1995 be­fore be­ing sold off in 2011 for eco­nomic rea­sons. It was a turn­ing point for the cinema, which was now in the hands of three cre­ative and dis­cern­ing lo­cals with a love for film: brothers An­do­nis (a film di­rec­tor) and Dim­itris (a de­signer) Kioukas, and film pro­ducer Thalia Kalafata.

They took par­tic­u­lar care of the gar­den, trans­formed an old dove­cote into an all-day cafe-bar and opened a small church on the premises to the pub­lic. They even put gold­fish in the old cis­tern, which is sur­rounded by a 200year-old cac­tus plant. (It’s said that Mele­topou­los brought it to My­conos when it was al­ready quite old and that its flow­ers only bloom for one night.)

The cinema doesn’t re­strict it­self sim­ply to show­ing films. It also hosts ex­hi­bi­tions, book pre­sen­ta­tions, chil­dren’s the­ater and art work­shops. It has be­come a pop­u­lar haunt for artists, a recre­ational area and a cul­tural fo­cal point for lo­cals and tourists.

Don’t be sur­prised if you see the lo­cal pel­i­can push­ing his way through with­out a ticket to nab a gold­fish from the cis­tern; he has a lit­tle house of his own in the gar­den. * This ar­ti­cle first ap­peared in Greece Is (www.greece-is.com), an English-lan­guage pub­lish­ing ini­tia­tive by Kathimerini.

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