“Bodhisattva, Superstar” – a film about popular culture and Buddhism

A new “allegorical documentary” about Western perceptions of, and misconceptions about, Buddhism, looks to be very interesting. The following is from the movie’s website:

Bodhisattva, Superstar, a new film by multimedia artist Michael Trigilio, confronts American popular culture’s habit of addressing the subject of religion with alternating degrees of deluded piety or flippant scorn.

Popular culture’s treatment of Buddhism often is ensnared by the language of marketing, using Buddhist language or images to sell shampoos, candy bars, or self-help recipes of one kind or another.

As one contemporary Buddhist author interviewed in the film suggests, many Americans expect Buddhism to be simply “a mash up of every Eastern philosophy they’ve ever heard of.”

Bodhisattva, Superstar sustains a documentary point-of-view by interviewing Buddhist “experts” – authors, chaplains, monks, scholars. The film also relies on an apparently scripted character (played by actress Deanna Erdmann) who navigates her own emotional landscape of wonder, wandering, and contemplation. Trigilio refers to this form as “allegorical documentary.” As pop-cultural myths about Buddhism are deconstructed in the film, so, too, is the nature of authority and authorship within the film itself. The heart of the film sits with the notion of spiritual authority which comes from within and not from above or beyond.

As the film careens towards its end – and as Trigilio, the filmmaker, become a subject of the interrogation and investigation – the audience is encouraged to see the subjective process of filmmaking itself as a practice just as complicated as the film’s subject matter.

Bodhisattva, Superstar ends with audiences being forced to come to terms with the popular idea that Buddhism is an anti-authoritarian religion. The film encourages audiences to discern for themselves what to accept and what to reject from the film in front of them.

And here’s the trailer:

And here’s a link to the movie’s website: https://www.starvelab.com/superstar/

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