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Ora! Festival Italy: Helen Mirren, Olives, & Misogyny

Italy’s Ora! Fest is a festival that features films and series which highlight important issues such as the environment, social justice and sustainability. This year it is taking place in Monopoli Apulia on Italy’s southern coast from June 3 to 7. Helen Mirren attended the festival for the premiere of Paramount+’s Italian premiere of 1923, the prequel to the western hit series Yellowstone, and left us with many important messages.

What were the messages Helen Mirren delivered?

Helen Mirren, the Oscar-winning actress wore a shocking pink calf-length dress studded with beads and sequins with a matching headscarf, paying homage to the region known as “Puglia” through it. She chose to use the Italian festival to deliver many messages including the fact that “misogyny is always lurking”. She says it’s always under the rug and “if you lift it up, you see it creeping in”. Misogyny was prevalent in the previous centuries, and Mirren tells us all to beware of us going back into those time periods instead of evolving and eradicating it as a whole. Mirren’s battle was also focused on ‘Save the Olives’, a non-profit environmental organization. Being a proud member, she carried its name with her, handwritten on a piece of paper which she held up for the cameras at the festivals photocall.

“I think characters like mine have always existed, (their stories) just weren’t being told. During my research into my character, I read autobiographies of “pioneer” women. We’re talking about women who crossed the U.S. to go to the West, incredibly strong, yet their stories were ignored, because only men’s stories were told. But women were there and had enormous willpower.”

Helen Mirren about her character in ‘Yellowstone’

What are Mirren’s comments on the Xylella epidemic?

In an interview, Helen talked alot about how the problems facing olives are underestimated in Italy. Olive trees are part of Italy’s historical, cultural and economic heritage especially in the south. She mentions that around her farmhouse in Salento there are thousands of acres of dead olive trees, and now experts are estimating that further 60 million olive trees will be lost to Xylella, a dangerous bacterial pathogen. With this epidemic of Xylella spreading, it is expected to touch other parts of Puglia unless it is managed on an national and international level, as it seems to have come to Italy from Costa Rica.