"Identity is your
own worst enemy."
The film chronicles this hugely talented
artist’s rise to popularity, his mistrust
of the art world that embraced him and his
current efforts to recast himself as a post-identitarian
artist. Born in the Philippines, Ocampo
came to Los Angeles in the early 80’s
where he worked at a Foto-Mat booth and
as a cook at McDonald’s before selling
his first painting. His paintings, for which
he became known, conjured the pathology
of the colonized psyche. These works became
largely popular with the wealthy white collectors,
critics and dealers who inhabit the art
Upon meeting and filming the story of Manuel
Ocampo, Rodriguez commented, "The problem
for me was that once I got close to Ocampo,
I realized that he was in the midst of trying
to transcend the work he had become semi-famous
for. Gone were the references to Spanish
colonialism, the Catholic Church, the swastikas.
I asked him why he had changed the direction
of his work and he said, ‘I was bored
with that shit.’"
The film was shot on location in Seville,
Spain where the artist was living, as well
as New York, Mexico City and Los Angeles,
where the artist had recent exhibitions.
It includes interviews with players in the
fine art business including collector Dennis
Hopper, artist Julian Schnabel, Mary Boone,
gallerists and other artists, critics and
The film has been honored at the AFI International
Film Festival, Hawaii International Film
Festival, International Festival of New
Latin American Cinema (Havana), Centre Georges
Pompidou Biennale internationale du film
sur l'art, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles,
Arco in Madrid, San Francisco International
Asian American Film Festival, Los Angeles
Asian American Film Festival, and the Chicago
Asian American Showcase - Chicago Art Institute
and many other venues.
Directed by Phillip
Rodriguez. Produced by Tom Patchett.
Speaks with filmmaker Billy Woodberry about
Manuel Ocampo: God is my Copilot.
the critics say:
observant, and wickedly ironic. Belongs with
the best of the genre."
Shen, Chicago Reader
stylish and very witty film about a witless
painter- and the people who flatter him."
portrait of an important young artist."
"A high flying
Angeles Daily News
hip and very insightful film."