Coffee meets culture in Sicily

| Fri, 03/26/2010 - 05:12

Words by Carla Passino - Pictures courtesy of Caffé Moak

Coffee has always played a part in cultural production. Authors and philosophers ranging from Voltaire to Silvio Pellico advocated the centrality of reason while bent over steaming cups at cafés in Paris, Turin and Milan. Painters from different centuries, countries and artistic schools, such as Charles André van Loo, Eduard Manet and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner gave coffee pride of place on their canvases. And portly Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour planned Italy’s independence from the Austrian yoke with a cup of coffee in hand.

Today a Sicilian roaster, Caffè Moak, celebrates this crucial link between culture and coffee with two intriguing initiatives. The first, Caffè Letterario Moak, harks back to the times of the Enlightenment and the role of cafés as literary hubs. It is an annual writing contest that selects and rewards three coffee-themed short stories, which must be written in Italian and unpublished. In the past, winning stories (which are awarded €1,500, while the runners up get €1,000 and €500 respectively) have included rhymes, travel accounts and memoirs. Every year, the selected works are published in a book called I Racconti sul Caffè (see for more details).

The second fascinating Caffè Moak project is its annual short film competition, which the company calls "a showcase for young filming talents” from around the world. It is open to shorts of any kind - fiction, cartoons, documentaries, experimental films - so long as they run for no more than 20 minutes and are in some way inspired by coffee. However, the interpretation directors can give to the coffee theme is suitably loose, and ranges from drink and bean to plant and meeting place.

This year, a prestigious jury presided by director Nello Correale and composed by director Egidio Eronico and film critics Sebastiano Gesù, Cristina Borsatti and Giuseppe Volpino will choose the winning shorts in eleven categories—best director, film, film editing, screenplay, cinematography, art direction, original score, animation, documentary, actor and actress. The winner and two runners up will receive €1,500, €1,000 and €500 respectively, and the shorts will be featured on the competition website ( for a year.

Moak is also partner with ADI Sicilia, an association promoting industrial design in Sicily. They are cooperating in a project that will feature the unreleased works of graphic designer Bob Noorda. For more information, please click here.

More information

Anyone interested in taking part in Caffè Letterario Moak or Corto Moak can send his work to

Centro di Formazione e di Iniziative Culturali e Ambientali
Via Risorgimento 10/B
97015 Modica (RG)

by April 27, 2010.

Read more about past editions of Moak cultural initiatives here. Below are videos from the past editions of the Corto Moak event and selected short-films: