New Film Celebrating Sicily Sells Out U.S. Premiere in Kansas City

Feature-length documentary by Mark Spano finds appreciative audience in Middle America.

 Theater marquee

Independent filmmaker Mark Spano, along with celebrated Kansas City Chef Jasper Mirabile Jr., are pleased to report that the U.S. premiere of Spano’s new documentary “Sicily: Land of Love & Strife” sold out the Screenland Armour Theater in North Kansas City, MO., last week.

The event was co-sponsored by the Kansas City chapters of the American Sons of Columbus and UNICO, the largest Italian-American non-profit service organization in the United States.

Mark with Family and Friends in Lobby
NC Filmmaker Mark Spano (center, back row) with family and friends in the theater’s lobby after sell-out screening in Kansas City, his hometown.

Although Spano lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, he chose Kansas City — the city where he was born and raised — for the U.S. premiere of the film that celebrates his family’s land of origin.

“Holding the premiere in Kansas City not only allowed me to see friends and family I had not seen in years, but it also gave me the opportunity to present my film to a very diverse Middle-America audience,” said Spano, a Sicilian by heritage who holds dual citizenship. “Their responses were both informative and heartwarming. I could not have asked for more. The theater was sold out and the crowd loved the film — I was truly humbled by their responses.”

By design, the feature-length documentary invites viewers to discover the Sicily that movies and television largely ignore. “But for crime, Sicily has gone largely unexplored,” said Spano. “Yet Sicily is more fascinating and diverse than other Italian regions and few places compare to Sicily for a story of spectacular beauty, epic human struggle, depth and diversity of culture, philosophic insights and historic sites.”

Chef Mirabile, the emcee for the sold-out event, also feels the film is a loving tribute to his land of origin. “Personally, the film evokes wonderful memories of the many trips I’ve made to my family’s homeland. I’m was honored to help showcase this remarkable region of Italy.”

Explaining his choice of emcee for the film’s U.S. premiere, Spano smiled. “I knew Jasper would be the right guy to emcee this event. Members of the Kansas City community have taken this man into their hearts. And, why shouldn’t they? He’s the best chef. He’s a tireless champion of Kansas City food, and he stands as one of the finest representatives of the success stories that Sicilian immigrants and their descendants have had all over the globe.”

From now through November, “Sicily: Land of Love & Strife” will be presented in various cities across the U.S. and Canada as part of a promotional opportunity called “Bring Sicily to Your Town.”  Two upcoming screenings include Hamilton, a suburb of Toronto, on June 20, then Buffalo, New York, on June 25th.

For more information on Mark Spano and “Sicily: Land of Love & Strife,” visit

(Click here for more information on “Bring Sicily to Your Town.”)

Mark on Stage
Mark on stage for the Q&A session as the credits roll.

THE KANSAS CITY STAR: “Chef Jasper Mirabile is celebrating Sicily on the big screen and in the kitchen”

April 09, 2018 02:56 PM


Continuing Ed from OLLI: Filmmaker Mark Spano To Teach “Sicily: Land of Love and Strife”

Spectacular beauty, epic human struggle, the depth and diversity of culture – these are Mark for OLLIamong the many facets of the island of Sicily that students will discover during a continuing educating course conducted by filmmaker Mark Spano. Based largely on Spano’s new feature-length documentary film “Sicily: Land of Love and Strife,” the course is being offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at NC State University, Duke University, and UNC-Wilmington in February and March.

“But for crime, Sicily has gone largely unexplored,” said Spano, whose family heritage is Sicilian. (He holds dual citizenship.) “Yet Sicily is more fascinating and diverse than other Italian regions and few places compare to Sicily for a story of spectacular beauty, epic human struggle, depth and diversity of culture, philosophic insights and historic sites.”

The island’s great natural abundance and its strategic location in the Mediterranean, at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and Asia, have made it “the most invaded place on the planet,” said Spano, who spent months in Sicily during the making of his film. “So ownership of this rugged and fertile terrain has been contested for millennia. Few people realize that Sicily rivals Greece and Egypt as a primary source for Western ideas.”

Along with screening his film, Spano will lecture on his family homeland and facilitate class discussions. His recommended reading for the course is Peter Robb’s Midnight in Sicily: On Art, Food, History, Travel and La Cosa Nostra (ISBN: 978-0312426842).

At NC State University, the course is entitled Re-imagining Sicily: Land of Love and Strife (page 10). It will be held on Fridays, February 9, 16, and 23, from 9 to, 10:30 a.m., in the McKimmon Center, 1101 Gorman Street in Raleigh. The course fee is $35.

At Duke,  Reimagining Sicily: Land of Love & Strife will be held on Thursdays, March 1, 8, and 15, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Judea Reform Congregation, 1933 West Cornwallis Road, Durham. The fee is $30.

At UNC-Wilmington, Film and Discussion –  Sicily: Land of Love and Strife  (page 6) will be held as one session on Friday, March 6, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the OLLI center at 620 S College Rd, Wilmington. The fee is $30.

About the instructor: Mark Spano is a writer and filmmaker. Among several others, his films include “The Quality of Light: A Biography of Claude Howell.” He is also the author of five works of fiction and a memoir. His critically acclaimed novel Midland Club is available on Amazon. His next novel, Kidding The Moon, is due out in 2018. He lives in rural Orange County, NC. For more information, visit

About OLLI: The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is a university-led and member-supported organization that provides lifelong learning opportunities for adults aged 50 and older in the southeastern North Carolina region. Through educational and experiential programming, OLLI connects the adult and university communities. Founded by philanthropist Bernard Osher in 1997, OLLI is offered at 120 institutes, including Duke, NCSU, and UNC-W. For more information: