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.

Bodhisattva, Superstar is a documentary insofar as it features Buddhist authors, chaplains, monks, and scholars speaking about the nature of Buddhism in America. However, 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.

As the film careens towards its end -- and as the filmmaker becomes a subject of interrogation and investigation -- the audience peers into the subjective process of authorship, a system itself as complicated as the film's subject matter. Bodhisattva, Superstar compels audiences to come to terms with the idea that Buddhism is an anti-authoritarian religion and encourages them to discern for themselves what to accept and what to reject from the film in front of them.

Michael Trigilio is a multimedia artist living in San Diego. Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, he received his B.A. in Humanities from the University of Texas at San Antonio. His fear of religion notwithstanding, he was ordained as a lay-ordained brother in the Zen Buddhist Tiep Hien Order (Order of Interbeing) in 1997, a role from which he resigned five years later. He received his M.F.A. from Mills College in 2003. Michael's work is inspired by material that balances sarcasm and prayer, giving rise to works that examine religion, humor, narcissism, and demystification. Michael is a founding member of the independent radio project Neighborhood Public Radio which was included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial exhibition. This work in public-practice/public-culture/public-sonification will be hosted in a three-month residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles in the Spring of 2011. Michael's work in video, sound, and radio has been presented in many venues nationally and internationally, notably the Anthology Film Archives in New York, Southern Exposure in San Francisco, the Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain in Strasbourg, and the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. Michael teaches courses in Media Art and Sound at the University of California San Diego.