Breaking [Bocce] Balls

Not Rated

Breaking Balls is a 75-minute feature length documentary film that follows three key figures in the lead up to the 30th anniversary of the Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce tournament: Gino Latessa, the Tournament Director; Brian Polantz, a world class bocce player from Mayfield, Ohio; and Dominic Olivo, the head groundskeeper at the Wickliffe Italian-American Club.


Gino and dozens of Wickliffe I-A volunteers work tirelessly to put on a world class bocce event which draws upwards of 10,000 spectators and players to Wickliffe annually. 96 four-man teams and 14 womens teams compete in the Challenge Cup for $20,000 in prize money, and more importantly, year-long bragging rights as the best bocce players in the midwest.


Brian played for the United States national team in the 2012 World Bocce Championships in Argentina. We travel with him as he competes in the Midwest summer bocce circuit, playing in the Triple Crown events of the World Series of Bocce in Rome, NY; the Cleveland International Bocce Tournament in Mayfield Heights, OH, and the Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce in Wickliffe, OH. Brian has won multiple tournaments, including Rome and Mayfield, but has never won the Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce.


Dominic Olivo, 78, is head groundskeeper of the Wickliffe Italian-American Club, whose outdoor bocce courts are considered some of the finest in North America, if not the world. While battling colon cancer, Dominic continues to work tirelessly on his beloved bocce courts, while passing on his knowledge and experience to his young apprentice, Salvatore Continenza. Dominic and his chop-busting volunteer crew arrive at the courts at 6:30am, put in hours of work three times a week all season long, from May through August, making sure the courts are ready for the Challenge Cup.


These three narratives converge at the 30th annual Challenge Cup Tournament, where we see that bocce isn't just a quaint, backyard sport, but instead a unique cultural tradition with a community of players, supporters and fans, who are the soul of this unique sport.

Breaking Balls is a testament to the importance of passing down from one generation to the next a love and appreciation of this special game.


Runtime: 75 Minutes | Language: English

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