Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have strange jobs thrust upon them because they are broke and look like somebody who has achieved greatness. Bronx Obama is an excellent documentary about how circumstances and necessity led Louis Ortiz down an unusual life path. Like so many blue collared workers, Ortiz found himself unemployed following the financial crisis of 2008. At the same time Barrack Obama was beginning to make a name for himself as a serious presidential candidate. Despite being Puerto Rican, friends began to point out his resemblance to this new political figure, Ortiz thought it was just because of his ears until he shaved his facial hair and began to see “dollar signs in the mirror.”
We see his transformation from a lookalike (first appearing on Flight of the Concords), to a full out impersonator/ performer. Ortiz takes voice lessons to sound more like Obama and joins a group of political impersonators who perform a travelling show of satirical debates. It’s a surreal journey that includes a mentoring Bill Clinton impersonator and meeting the Dalai Lama. Like the real Obama, his first term as “President” is a visibly ageing one.
The heart of the film comes from Ortiz’s struggles as a single father and the close relationship he has with his daughter. We also see the internal struggle when the job begins to conflict with his own pride and political beliefs. Bronx Obama is a documentary that succeeds on several levels and will even appeal to audiences with little or no interest in politics. (Noah Taylor)
Tuesday, April 29th, Scotiabank 4, 7:00pm
Wednesday, April 30th, Hart House Theatre, 12:30pm
Saturday, May 3rd, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, 1:30pm