Louis Ortiz walked into a bar one day in 2008 and received a comment that he looked like this guy named “Barack Obama,” who was running for president. At first, Ortiz, a middle-aged, unemployed Puerto Rican father from the Bronx, didn’t believe it, but after shaving his goatee, he found himself taken aback by the resemblance. So began Ortiz’s career as an Obama impersonator. Beginning with busking in Times Square and an appearance on HBO’s Flight of the Conchords, Ortiz eventually joins a group of political impersonators, performing satirical debates in the lead-up to the 2012 election. However, with him having to perform material he doesn’t personally agree with and receiving constant harassment from his producer, Ortiz begins to have second thoughts about whether being an Obama impersonator is the right career for him.
It can probably be both a blessing and a curse for someone to find out that they look like the president of the United States. Being an Obama impersonator gave Louis Ortiz a new career path, after being unemployed for a year, but it also prevented him from spending time with his only daughter, who he decides to send to live with her grandparents. In addition, when Obama’s popularity started to plummet, Ortiz often found himself targeted as a result.
Much of Bronx Obama focuses on the satirical political debates Ortiz participated in, in which he was pressured to perfect Obama’s vocal mannerisms and perform material that was “borderline racist” and went against Ortiz’s own political beliefs. In the same company was a veteran Bill Clinton impersonator, who used to make appearances on talk shows and now struggles with weight gain. This shows that the life of an impersonator has a ticking clock.
Is Bronx Obama essential festival viewing?
Yes, I would think so. While on the surface the film is about an Obama impersonator, it ultimately becomes about Louis Ortiz wanting a good life for his daughter and what he is willing to endure the tough life as an impersonator in order to provide for her.
Bronx Obama screening times
- Tuesday, April 29, 2014 – 7:00 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 4
- Wednesday, April 30, 2014 – 12:30 pm – Hart House Theatre
- Saturday, May 3, 2014 – 1:30 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Bronx Obama gallery
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