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A Life Looking Like Obama -- In 'Full Frame'


  The documentary Bronx Obama follows the story of Luis Ortiz, an unemployed man living in the Bronx who one day in 2008 is told he looks an awful lot like a guy named Barack Obama from Chicago who is running for President—and that changes everything. 

Ryan Murdock is the director of Bronx Obama, "Luis Ortiz is a guy from the Bronx who before 2008 he was an unemployedVerizon worker.  He had worked for many years installing phone and cable lines in the Bronx.  One day he walked into a bar.  The story literally starts guy walks into a bar and everything changed from that moment out."

Murdock says walking around with Luis while he is dressed like Obama always causes a scene, "It is constant head turning.  Everywhere I went with him people were rubber necking and gawking and some of them would sneak pictures on their cell phones.  You know one of the things that I found in making the film is that this is really for Luis a blessing and a curse.  I mean there is a way in which he can’t get away from it even when he is not trying to look like Obama.  And I think that is kind of exhausting really.  It is this thing that he can’t get away with unless he really tries not to look like Obama.”

Right after President Obama's initial election Luis had incredible luck finding work, but things get a little tougher after the first election ends.   Murdock says “The film really follows his attempt during the election year of 2012 to double down on this opportunity that is given and try to really turn it into a new career and  a new way of supporting his family and paying the basic bills and really turning his life around in his early 40’s.”

Over the course of the film you see his transformation.  He spends months trying to lose his Bronx accent and start to sound more like a presidential candidate.  "You start to see over the course of the film this blending of Luis and Obama into this new hybrid character called Bronx Obama.” says Murdock.

The film Bronx Obama which will screen at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival tomorrow at 4:20.

Phoebe Judge is an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured on a numerous national radio programs. She regularly conducts interviews and anchors WUNC's broadcast of Here & Now. Previously, Phoebe served as producer, reporter and guest host for the nationally distributed public radio program The Story. Earlier in her career, Phoebe reported from the gulf coast of Mississippi. She covered the BP oil spill and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for Mississippi Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio. Phoebe's work has won multiple Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press awards. Phoebe was born and raised in Chicago and is graduate of Bennington College and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
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