A new feature-length documentary created to change public perception of Sicily will be shown in New York City for the first time when the Bernie Wohl Center at 647 Columbus Avenue presents “Sicily: Land of Love & Strife” on Wednesday, September 12, at 7:30 p.m.
“But for crime, Sicily has gone unexplored,” said the film’s writer/producer/director Mark Spano. “The island’s association with the Mafia, so deeply entrenched in popular consciousness, has obscured more rounded and accurate depictions of its history and culture.”
Until now. Through “Sicily: Land of Love & Strife,” Spano is introducing audiences across the U.S. and in Canada to the many facets of the island nation that are relatively unknown to the public: the natural beauty, epic human struggle, depth and diversity of culture, historic sites, and philosophic influence.
Spano is the son of Sicilian immigrants (and holds dual citizenship). He grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, in a vibrant Italian-American community. He held the U.S. premiere of the film in Kansas City in April, where it sold out the host theatre.
Since the 1980s, Spano has lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Yet for five years, he spent a huge chunk of his time in Sicily as he worked on the documentary. (Click here to view the trailer.)
“The most invaded place on earth, Sicily rivals Greece and Egypt as a primary source for Western ideas,” he noted. “And fewer places on the planet compare to Sicily as a place of wonder and intrigue. Yet little has been produced about the cultural or historic relevance of Sicily.” He pauses and smiles. “I should’ve made this film decades ago.”
Angelo Coniglio of Buffalo, NY, where a special screening of the film sold out in advance, is a genealogist specializing in Sicilian heritage and the author of columns and books set in Sicily. “I’ve been interested in and I’ve supported this project since I first discovered Spano’s plans several years ago,” he said. “The customs, colors, and sounds of both ‘old’ and modern Sicily are vividly brought to life by this film. If you’ve never been to Sicily, the film will invite you to visit. If you have already been there, then ‘Land of Love & Strife’ will haunt you.”
Mark Spano will lead a panel discussion with Sicily aficionado Karen La Rosa and Sicilian-American author/scholar Gaetano Cipolla after the September 12th show.
Tickets are $20 and can be ordered in advance at www.goddard.org or purchased at the center that evening.
For more information on “Sicily: Land of Love & Strife” and filmmaker Mark Spano, visit markspano.wordpress.com. Those interested can also follow the film on Facebook.