Calliope was a woman who influenced the island of Mykonos as few people. Her contribution, her knowledge, her kindness and her generosity have remained engraved in the minds and thoughts of many Mykonians. For forty years she was the Librarian of the island, but also a personality who changed the life, but also the future of all those who were lucky enough to know her.
The director Antonis Kioukas created a documentary, in which her family, friends, colleagues and “students” talk about her and share their memories with her. Although she is no longer alive, her story still lives on through the stories of her loved ones. Let us takes things from the beginning…
“I “studied” and educated in this library. So, I could not help but create a documentary about this woman who had so much to give to me and to anyone who needed her” -Antonis Kioukas
Calliope was born in 1933 in Mykonos to a fisherman father and a farmer mother. She was the middle child between two younger brothers, Athanas and Pantelis, and two older ones, Giannis and Kyriakos. Her father was Dimitris Lykouris who, despite his background and work, knew how to read and write – something rare for that time. So, Calliope listened to him and she also learned things from her father. She loved letters and her dream was to study. However, just before she finished high school and graduated, her aunt managed to persuade her father to stop her from school. Her new goal was to become a singer, but they did not let her.
At the age of twenty-three she started working in the Municipality of Mykonos and later in the Registry Office. In 1957, however, she got a job in what would prove to be her greatest love, at the Municipal Library of Mykonos. She remained there for forty-five years, until her death. She never wanted to retire…
Calliope’s initiative was the creation of the Women’s Association of Mykonos, in an effort to preserve the habits and customs of the island. So in 1979 she gathered several women and told them that they had to create an Association, because now due to tourism the identity of the island had already begun to alter. Since that time, the purpose of the Association has not changed. The revival and preservation of local customs and the participation of members in various cultural and charitable events were, are and will be its priorities.
Her other great love was the Churches of the island. She loved them, adorned them, since she was deeply religious. But she also had a huge phobia. She was afraid of ghosts. She did not go out at night because the stories she heard “haunted” her. At the same time, she created -with many more other Mykonians- theatrical works that concerned their place and their history. Too many people came to watch these performances. The stories were so funny that they made everyone laugh and enjoy the experience to the fullest.
Calliope was one of those personalities that everyone wishes to pass through Mykonos again. A personality with pure love for the place but also for its people. Many times, in fact, she said that when and if she retired she would go to study at university. Such was her love of learning. Never-ending.
“To this day, the Public Library stands in the same spot, offering a place dedicated to knowledge and learning”. -Antonis Kioukas
Mykonos Post contacted Antonis Kioukas, who, in fact, is Calliope’s nephew. “Calliope Triantafyllou was my aunt. She remained the librarian of the island for forty years -an island that for some time did not even have a high school and people went to Tinos to continue their studies. The Library, which was donated by Meletopoulos, as well as the garden where the Cine Manto is located, functioned as a “secret school” in some way. This place kept the memories and the love for the book. Four generations of people have benefited from this donation, and to this day the Municipal Library stands on the same spot offering a place dedicated to knowledge and learning” explains Antonis Kioukas to the Mykonos Post.
The documentary speaks of people who lived with her, loved her, cared for her and deeply grieved when she died. Specifically, her friends that speak about her are the following: Maria Markari, Panagiotis Kousathanas, George Voulgaris, Apostolos Charitopoulos, Dimitra Nazou, Antonis Xydakis, Dina Mitropia, her “students” Miltiadis Atzamoglou and the Mayor of the island, Konstantinos Koukas, her husband Artemis Triantafyllou and her son Nikos Triantafyllou. Everyone takes care to clarify the place that Calliope held in their hearts. For many she was a friend, for others a family, for others a teacher, but for everyone she was there in hard times as well as good ones. “I “studied” and educated in this library. So, I could not help but create a documentary about this woman who had so much to give to me and to anyone who needed her” Antonis Kioukas tells us with absolute sincerity.
Antonis Kioukas created an informative, nostalgic and successful result, that when you watch it, you can only get emotional -even shivering with some confessions of her family. Along with these scenes, some shots and useful material from the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) archives are presented. “I use whatever material I can find. When you do a job all your life, it is now easier than looking from the beginning. I have multi-annual and good relations with ERT. “Through my work, I have identified where I can draw and find the resources I need” says the director. And the time comes when we ask him why he chose to make a documentary about Calliope of Mykonos. His answer is disarming: “Do you know what Brecht says? “Everyone who returns to their place is not a winner. But no one is a winner if he does not return to his place.” So I did that. I came back, I got involved and I still do as much as I can and as much as others are still interested”.
The director Antonis Kioukas is very active, while in a few days he is going to present his next film work. “I recently made a film about Manto Mavrogenous, which will be played for the first time on Friday, September 24 at Cine Manto. I want to make two more films: For a great woman from my place of origin, Melpo Axioti, a Mykonian writer who now lives abroad and I also want to make a film about Panagiotis Kousathanas. Panagiotis Kousathanas is a man who has done something for Mykonos that no one else has done for his place – in Greece at least. He has collected eight large volumes with all the history, tradition and folklore of Mykonos. After these films, I am thinking of retiring” he reveals to the Mykonos Post.