Brad Warner is far from your typical Zen Buddhist monk.

But then again, what's typical?

Warner is a Zen priest, a punk musician and a writer with a snarky, pop culture-centered tone. He's also the subject of a new film, "Brad Warner's Hardcore Zen," coming to Boulder next week.

Warner's work often puts a modern face on Zen Buddhist practice, including issues of sexuality and modern-day life. He has written four books on the subject of Zen Buddhism and spirituality, and his nontraditonal style has inspired some Buddhist practitioners while raising eyebrows with others.

A screening of "Brad Warner's Harcore Zen" is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 18 at the University of Colorado's Muenzinger Auditorium.

Warner has written extensively about Zen Buddhism in his books, which include "Sit Down and Shut Up," "Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate," "Sex, Sin, and Zen" and his latest, "There Is No God and He Is Always With You." He also writes a blog and has contributed to the alternative porn site

suicidegirls.com.

The juxtaposition of traditional Zen practice and Warner's seemingly nontraditional personality appealed to Pirooz Kalayeh, director of "Hardcore Zen."

Kalayeh is a former Naropa University student and graduate of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. After moving to Los Angeles, he ended up attending one of Warner's Zen classes and was intrigued.


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"I knew I wanted to do a film about him," he said.

Yet Warner was more than wary. No fewer than three other filmmakers had expressed interest in making his work into a film, but none of them followed through.

"I think I just told him, 'Well, if you show up, I guess you can film me,'" Warner said with a laugh.

Kalayeh did more than show up. He followed Warner around in his everyday life, his meditation sessions and writing classes.

The film, which incorporates all facets of Warner's life and includes feedback from fellow Zen practitioners and friends, explores why Warner is both controversial and inspirational for modern-day Buddhists.

In the film, Warner explains how he strives to follow a formal Zen practice while living an ordinary life, including spending time in several punk bands, writing books and drawing on work he did early in his career as a translator for Asian monster movies.

As a young man, he says in the film, "I got into punk and Zen for the same reason ... searching for something authentic and true."

Nina Snow, a yoga instructor and friend of Warner's, says in the film that acquaintances to whom she introduced Warner were "relieved that he was kind of a regular guy. Most of my friends are not looking for the guy in the robes, floating off the ground."

Kalayeh said he strove to portray Warner in an honest way, including the controversies about Warner's views on topics such as sex and spirituality.

One of the first screenings of "Brad Warner's Hardcore Zen" took place at a European Buddhist film festival. While many of the films depicted images of people meditating in calm settings, "Hardcore Zen" included scenes of Warner's punk band and a staged fight scene between Warner and a critic of his teachings. In several scenes, Warner answers questions while wearing a leather jacket over a bunny costume.

Kalayeh said viewers aren't always sure how to respond to the film -- and those unexpected reactions are a good thing.

"But that's Brad, right? He's edgy, daring, unconventional and traditional all in one," Kalayeh said. "I wanted the film to reflect that same attitude he brought to Zen."

For more information about "Brad Warner's Hardcore Zen," visit http://local-screen.com/hardcore-zen/boulder-co.

Megan Quinn writes a faith column once a week for the Camera. Contact her at quinnm@dailycamera.com.