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Manuel Ocampo, God is my Copilot

"Identity is your own worst enemy."
-Manuel Ocampo

Manuel Ocampo: God is My Copilot, directed by Phillip Rodriguez, is a one-hour film about the career of a 33-year-old painter, Manuel Ocampo, who came into prominence amidst the contemporary art world’s encounter with multiculturalism.

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 world.

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 collectors.

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.

Rodriguez Speaks with filmmaker Billy Woodberry about Manuel Ocampo: God is my Copilot.

What the critics say:

"Engaging, observant, and wickedly ironic. Belongs with the best of the genre."
—Ted Shen, Chicago Reader

"A stylish and very witty film about a witless painter- and the people who flatter him."
—Richard Rodriguez, Essayist

"A compelling portrait of an important young artist."
—Jessica Hagedorn, Novelist

"A high flying revelation!"
—Los Angeles Daily News

"A hip and very insightful film."
—CBS Radio
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