BOCCE FILM “TEAM MARCO” OPENS

The new indie film “Team Marco,” a family drama with bocce at center stage, debuted November 20 to solid reviews and is widely available on pay and streaming video platforms. Eleven-year-old Marco is obsessed with headsets, electronics and video games until his grandfather moves in and insists that Marco join him in daily play with his bocce club at the many courts around Staten Island. After reluctantly observing, then finally learning to play, Marco is challenged to play against his grandfather’s bocce team, finds new friends, and organizes a successful kids’ team.

The New York Times review notes that “if there is an aspect of “Team Marco” worth richly enjoying, it’s that the movie has a loving sense of place. The director Julio Vincent Gambuto takes a golden view of Staten Island, with its bocce courts, Italian bakeries and gaggles of older men who still wear hats to the park.” According to the blog site SILive.com, the film was shot entirely on Staten Island and more than 30 local businesses and organizations supported the production.

In addition to local actors, the film features members of Richmond Engine Company 1 and three members of the Staten Island Bocce Club. The vintage St. George Theatre on Staten Island sponsored a virtual premiere national kickoff for the release. Gambuto, who grew up on Staten Island and earned an English degree at Harvard and an MFA at the UCLA School of Cinematic Arts, returned home to launch his production company, Boro Five. “Team Marco,” which won the Audience Award at the Mill Valley Film Festival and went on to 50 film festivals in 14 countries, is its first film.

The movie includes vintage 8 mm film footage from the 1960s of Gambuto’s grandparents who immigrated to Staten Island from Bari and Naples and spent a lot of time on the bocce courts. Gambuto explains that home for his large Italian family was a place where aunts, uncles and cousins gathered for Entenmann’s crumb cake and coffee, “to tell stories, argue about the Mets, talk about the neighbors . . . play music, laugh a lot and dance.” The film is thick with this homey, Italian-American ambience.

Kyle Bain, reviewing the film for Filmthreat.com, writes that “Team Marco” is “a game-changer in the world of PG-rated comedy that can entertain audiences of all ages. From young boys and girls who appreciate the technological aspect to seasoned adults who can fully appreciate the sentiment behind spending time with loved ones, there is something for everyone in ‘Team Marco.’”

Oakmont Bocce Club members who have seen the film are unanimous in their praise: “It’s good.”

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