Mark’s story starts in the streets of Kansas City in a neighbourhood populated by immigrant Sicilians and Neapolitans. He was born to a father of Sicilian origin and a mother whose family came from Puglia. Despite the criminality he witnessed in his hometown, Mark’s family guided him down a path that avoided the temptations of easy money, fighting the facile stereotyping faced by many families whose relatives hailed from southern Italy. He admits that he can’t quite pin-down his feeling of being Sicilian. Despite a lifetime of reading about the island, his first visit was delayed until he was sixty, but it was a visit that would have him yearning for Trinacria whenever he put pen to paper or film to camera. The truth of this is to be found within us all; we are all immigrants from somewhere, however far removed, and to deny that is part of the problem we face as humans in the complex global world of the twenty-first century. Mark has chosen to embrace his family’s past and discover more. READ MORE
New documentary will change public perception of the island nation while raising funds for food for the homeless.
The Triangle Sons of Italy (TSOI), Lodge 2817, will present the North Carolina premiere of “Sicily: Land of Love & Strife,”the new feature-length documentary by Mark Spano, a first-generation Sicilian-American who hopes his film will change public perception of the mysterious island nation.
The film will be shown at The Cary Theatre, 123 East Chatham Street, Cary, NC 27511 on Sunday, November 11, at 3 p.m., followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker. The TSOL Lodge will also host an optional buffet dinner that evening at nearby Mayton Inn (301 South Academy Street). All proceeds will support Lodge 2817’s efforts to provide food for the homeless throughout the Triangle.
Writer/producer/director Mark Spano, a first-generation Sicilian-American, explains the inspiration for the critically acclaimed documentary he crafted over a period of five years:
“Fewer places on the planet compare to Sicily as a place of wonder and intrigue,” he says. “Yet little has been produced about the cultural or historic relevance of Sicily. But for crime, Sicily has gone unexplored. 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 sold-out audiences across the U.S. and Canada to the many facets of the island nation that are relatively unknown to the public: the natural beauty, epic human struggles, depth and diversity of culture, historic sites, and philosophic influence.
The buffet dinner will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are $26 per person.
The film’s recently released companion book, Sicily: Land of Love & Strife – A Filmmaker’s Journey, will be available for purchase in the lobby on November 11 or ordered now at this link. Dreamscape Media (distributor) will release the DVD on December 1. Pre-orders can be made at the same lin
Mark Spano is the son of Sicilian immigrants and holds both US and Sicily citizenships. He grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, in a vibrant Sicilian-American community. Since the 1980s, he has lived in Orange County, NC. Yet for five years, he spent a huge chunk of his time in Sicily as he worked on the documentary of his family’s homeland. Recently, Thunderfoot Press released the 130-page companion book he wrote for the film, entitled Sicily: Land of Love & Strife – A Filmmaker’s Journey. The book is available on Amazon.
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 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.
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.
“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.
I’m thinking Sicily right now. Of course, it has to do with all the wonderful food and my family heritage but also about independent filmmaker Mark Spano, writer, producer, and director of “Sicily: Land of Love and Strife.”
He will be in Kansas City this week for the U.S. premiere of his feature-length documentary at the Screenland Armour Theatre. READ MORE…
Spectacular beauty, epic human struggle, the depth and diversity of culture – these are among 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 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/.