Hot Docs 2014: Bronx Obama (2014)

Posted by Brandy Dean April 21, 2014 1 Comment 5034 views

In 2008, Luis Ortiz was an unemployed single dad in the Bronx. One night in a bar, someone pointed out that he looked a lot like Senator Barack Obama. Spoiler alert: he does look a lot like Barack Obama and eventually finds himself as an Obama impersonator on a comedy road show with other political impersonators. Bronx Obama is the story of Ortiz’s transformation into the most powerful man in the world and touches on issues of identity, sacrifice, and the American dream.

First, Bronx Obama is kind of hilarious. The repeated cognitive dissonance of watching Barak Obama do things like make a purchase at a Bronx bodega never stops being funny. But Ortiz’s story is ultimately not all that funny. In a weird parallel to actually being the leader of the free world, he has to give up a lot – his own self hood, being present in his teen daughter’s life, putting in grueling hours – to pretend to be the leader of the free world. Ortiz is sanguine though. This is a gravy train that, by definition, will go off the rails.

Filmmaker Ryan Murdock does an admirable job of just staying out of the story. Instead, Bronx Obama and Luis Ortiz’s life unfolds as it does and the documentary doesn’t beat you over the head with a point. But what could have become a one punchline joke, the film reveals a lot about both Ortiz in specific and the state of the American dream in general. Put Bronx Obama on your must see Hot Docs list.

Screening Times for Bronx Obama

Scotiabank Theatre 4 Tue, Apr 29 7:00 PM
Hart House Theatre Wed, Apr 30 12:30 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 Sat, May 3 1:30 PM

Watch Bronx Obama Endorse Barak Obama


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About Brandy Dean

Social media consultant, blogger for hire, and lover of classic movies and silent films.

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There is 1 Comment

  1. Mike
    - August 4, 2014
      -   Reply

    This was a great movie. A fascinating take. Great job by the filmmaker – (Murdock?) And Mr. Ortiz and his daughter are very likable besides.

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