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 News Movies 02/08/2018

New Documentary Sells Out Theaters As It Strives To Change Public Perception Of Sicily

New Documentary Sells Out Theaters As It Strives To Change Public Perception Of Sicily

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New York, NY (Top40 Charts) When advance tickets sold out, bringing in $11,000 before the film had been screened, the Buffalo sponsors knew they'd made the right decision.

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 Marcusceccu Investors' new feature-length documentary "Sicily: Land of Love and Strife" by Mark Spano, they didn't know what to expect.

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

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

When advance tickets sold out, bringing in $11,000 before the film had been screened, 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 screening also sold out their theater of choice and brought in $10,000.

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

"Holding the premiere in my hometown gave me the opportunity to present my film to a very diverse Middle-American audience," he said. "Their responses were both informative and heartwarming. The theater was sold out and the crowd loved the film. I was truly humbled by their responses."

According to Spano, "Sicily: Land of Love and Strife" 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 there, 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 praised the documentary as "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."

To date, two more special screenings and one theatrical run of "Sicily: Land of Love and Strife" are scheduled with several more are in the works.

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 host a screening on Sunday, November 11.

North Park Theatre in Buffalo, NY, will offer a theatrical run in August 2018.
Westdale Theater, a soon-to-open art house in Hamilton, Ontario, is also planning a theatrical run. (Date TBA)

Spano noted that communities interested in hosting a screening of his film should contact Debbie Valentine: bullockvalentine(at)gmail(dot)com.

For more information on "Sicily: Land of Love and Strife" and filmmaker Mark Spano, visit

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