Author, Filmmaker Mark Spano Named 2020 Outstanding Italian-American in North Carolina

Author, filmmaker, second-generation Sicilian Mark Spano

October 2, 2020 (Orange County, NC)  — The Triangle Sons & Daughters of Italy, a member of the Order Sons & Daughters of Italy in America, has named Blueplate PR client Mark Spano of Orange County as its 2020 Outstanding Italian-American in North Carolina. The organization will present the award during its Annual Picnic and General Membership Meeting in Raleigh on October 11.

“This is an unexpected and exciting honor,” Spano said after receiving word of the award. “I am deeply grateful.”

The grandson of Sicilian immigrants, Mark Spano has been a prolific and well-known member of North Carolina’s film and television production community for many years. Over the last decade, he focused his talents and energy on his family’s homeland as he wrote, directed, and produced “Sicily: Land of Love and Strife,” a feature-length documentary.

His goal, he said, is to introduce viewers 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, philosophic insights, and historic places.”

After its official premiere in Spano’s hometown, Kansas City, Missouri, in April 2018, “Sicily: Land of Love and Strife” played to packed houses during an initial limited theatrical run in the U.S. and Canada. It was warmly received at the Toronto Italian Film Festival and has aired on select public television stations both here and in E.U. markets. (He discusses his documentary during an interview airing now on YouTube.) The film and companion book are available on Amazon.

During the coronavirus quarantine, Spano has channeled his passion into producing a short video tribute entitled “Dreaming of Sicily.” He is also working on a show about Sicilian wines.

For more information about the 2020 Outstanding Italian-American in North Carolina and his work, visit MarkSpano.org.

Sons & Daughters of Italy in America, the Triangle

Established in 1905 as a mutual aid society for early Italian immigrants, the Order Sons & Daughters of Italy in America (OSDIA) is the largest and longest-established national organization for people of Italian descent in the U.S. with over 600,000 members and 700 chapters coast to coast.

Local Italian-Americans founded the Triangle chapter in 2004. Since then, the group has funded scholarships to support students studying the Italian language and conducted a series of programs designed to “celebrate and preserve our culture and heritage and to promote and enjoy the warm family relationships so many of us grew up with.” For more information, visit trianglesonsofitaly.org.

Hamilton, Ontario’s Festitalia Welcomes Mark Spano’s Film “Sicily: Land of Love & Strife”

Film Header

A new documentary celebrating the island and its people.

Sicilia Canta, in cooperation with Cinema Insieme film club, the Italian Contemporary Film Festival (ICFF), and  Festitalia, will present the Canadian premier of the new feature-length documentary by Mark Spano, “Sicily: Land of Love & Strife,” on Wednesday, June 20, beginning at 7 p.m.

The premiere will be held in the Bishop Ryan Theatre Auditorium in Hamilton, 1824 Rymal Road. East Hamilton, ON. A Q&A session with the filmmaker and a reception including Sicilian music will follow the film.

ICFF logo croppedSpano had scheduled the one-time-only Hamilton screening on another date until Charles Criminisi, Hamilton Coordinator for ICFF, suggested he hold the premiere during Festitalia, the annual festival that shares the “tastes, sounds, and passion” of Canadian-Italian culture and heritage with the Hamilton community-at-large.

“We’re excited and honored to show the premiere of this entertaining and informative documentary, ‘Sicily: Land of Love & Strife,’” Criminisi said. “It promises to be a very entertaining evening with writer, director, and producer Mark Spano.”

Spano is the son of Sicilian immigrants (he holds dual citizenship). He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For five years, he worked diligently on his documentary of his family’s homeland because “little has been produced about the cultural or historic relevance of Sicily,” he explained.

“The most invaded place on earth, the three-sided island rivals Greece and Egypt as a primary source for Western ideas. Yet fewer places on the planet compare to Sicily as a place of wonder and intrigue.

“But for crime, Sicily has gone unexplored,” he continued. “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. Spano hopes his film will begin to change the public’s perception of Sicily and Sicilian people. Click here to view the documentary’s trailer.

Tickets to the premiere are $20 per person. To order advance tickets, call Joe Baiardo (289-880-1561), Sam Cino (905-388-2199), or click here to order online.

For more information on “Sicily: Land of Love & Strife” and filmmaker Mark Spano, go to markspano.wordpress.com.