“Sicily: Land of Love & Strife” is Coming to NYC. Its mission: to change public perception of the mysterious Italian island.

NYC PosterA new feature-length documentary created to change public perception of Sicily will be shown in New York City for the first time when the Goddard Riverside Community Center 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.

The Goddard Riverside Community Center is located at 593 Columbus Avenue at 88th Street, New York, NY 10024 (212-799-9400). 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.


From “Sicily: Land of Love & Strife”





New Film Proves Successful Fundraiser While Changing Public Perception of Mysterious Sicily


Sicily: Land of Love and Strife
This and images to follow were lifted from “Sicily: Land of Love and Strife”

When The Italian Cultural Center of Buffalo, New York (ICCB), the Federation of Italian-American Societies of Western New York (FASWNY), and the Per Niente Club of Buffalo sponsored a special screening of the new feature-length documentary “Sicily: Land of Love and Strife” as a fundraiser, they didn’t know what to expect in return.

Would a film devoted solely to Sicily be compelling to Buffalo’s Italian-American community?

Would the general public accept the contention that there’s more to the mysterious three-sided island than its much-publicized relationship to organized crime?


When advance tickets sold out and the tally hit $11,000, the Buffalo sponsors knew they’d made the right decision.

So did Sicilia Canta, the Cinema Insieme film club, the Italian Contemporary Film Festival (ICFF), and  Festitalia, all in Hamilton, Ontario, whose special screening also sold out and brought in $10,000.

In Kansas City, Missouri, where writer/producer/director Mark Spano held the U.S. premiere, the small theatre there also sold out.  A native of Kansas City whose parents were first-generation Sicilian immigrants, Spano was thrilled.


“Holding the premiere in my hometown not only allowed me to see friends and family I hadn’t seen in years, but it also gave me the opportunity to present my film to a very diverse Middle-American audience,” he said. “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.”

Spano’s film celebrates the island nation’s natural beauty, its passionate people and epic human struggles, the depth and diversity of its culture, the philosophic insights that originated in Sicily, and its wealth of historic sites – all facets of Sicily that have been obscured by the mysterious country’s association with organized crime. He hopes the documentary he worked on for three years will change public perception of his family’s homeland.

Frank Cherrito, former president of UNICO’s Kansas City chapter (2009-2011), remembers when the enthusiastic filmmaker first told him about the documentary he wanted to make.

Film Header

“Mark came to us with an idea,” Cherrito recalled. “Although it wasn’t really clear to us, the vision he had for this wonderful film was crystal clear to him. And it proved to be an incredible fundraiser for our organization. Many people came out to support the film primarily, I think, because it highlights the Italian-American culture in a positive way.”

Sam Cino and Joe Baiardo of Sicilia Canta and Charles Criminisi of Cinema Insieme sent the filmmaker the following statement: “The film was beautifully created with breathtaking images and a captivating soundtrack. Diverse perspectives on the history, culture and norms of Sicilian life were presented by international scholars and authorities who introduced facts that were unknown to many about this beautiful three-sided island. Feedback from many of the 300 viewers was very favorable. Funds from the screening will be used to promote future community initiatives and events of particular interest to the local Sicilian community.”

To date, two more special screenings of “Sicily: Land of Love and Strife” are scheduled:

  • The New York City premiere will be held in the Bernie Wohl Center on Columbus Avenue on Wednesday, September 12.
  • The Triangle Sons and Daughters of Italy, Lodge 2817, in Cary, North Carolina, will present the film as a fundraiser on Sunday, November 11.

Also, Westdale Theater, a soon-to-open art house in Hamilton, and North Park Theatre in Buffalo are planning theatrical runs. No dates have been announced yet.

For more information on “Sicily: Land of Love and Strife” and filmmaker Mark Spano, visit https://markspano.wordpress.com/.

Communities interested in hosting special screenings should

contact Spano at mark@markspano.com.


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 https://markspano.wordpress.com/.

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: http://www.osherfoundation.org/.