The Hellenic Women’s Cultural Association – ESTIA is inviting the public to celebrate International Women’s Day with a talk by Professor Maria Koundoura on Greek actress, activist and cultural icon Melina Mercouri.

The head of the Department of Arts, Film and Journalism at Emerson College in Boston, USA, Professor Koundoura will be ESTIA’s guest speaker as part of the celebrations for Women’s Day at 3.30pm on Sunday, 23 February, at the Greek Community Centre, 168 Lonsdale Street in Melbourne .

The subject will be Melina Mercouri who first came to international notice in the 1960 film, Never On A Sunday. The film was directed by her future husband, Jules Dassin and she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role – the film’s theme song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Mercouri was voted Best Actress for the role at Cannes.

READ MORE: 10 facts that justify 2020 being declared Melina Mercouri year

But Mercouri, a consummate actress was more than an entertainer. When the military junta took over Greece in 1967, she was foremost in the international campaign to isolate the regime. She lost her citizenship and her property in Greece was confiscated, prompting her reply: “I was born Greek and I will die Greek. Patakos was born a fascist and will die a fascist”.

She returned to Greece after the fall of junta in 1974. She eventually retired from acting in 1992. She became Minister of Culture when the socialist PASOK government was elected to power in 1981 – the first woman in that role in Greek history.

As minister, Mercouri was the inspiration for a host of cultural undertakings that promoted Greece to the world. She also was the driving, passionate and eloquent force leading the campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles – a campaign that has not abated despite her death in 1994.

“You must understand what the Parthenon Marbles mean to us. They are our pride. They are our sacrifices. They are our noblest symbol of excellence. They are a tribute to the democratic philosophy. They are our aspirations and our name. They are the essence of Greekness.”

Entry to the talk is free and refreshments will be provided.