EVOLVING CONSCIOUSNESS | CIVILIZING CIVILIZATION
"On Netflix" Robin Gilbert-Jones
"Whether or not you agree that psychedelic experiences can be useful, there is a growing consensus that the so-called “War on Drugs” has been a catastrophic failure. This is not a difficult case to make and constitutes more an illustrative side-note to this really quite beautiful film. Instead, the focus is on the nature and utility of the experiences themselves and the substances that induce them. The background around their illegality and the establishment crusade against them, acts only as further evidence for their revolutionary potential.
Oliver Hockenhull’s Neurons to Nirvana explores the possibilities of the psychedelic experience through a combination of historical record and interviews with researchers in the field of psychedelics, notable examples including pscychologist Ralph Metzner, psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt and ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna (brother of the famous shamanic philosopher Terrance McKenna). Aside from the potential therapeutic benefits, there is also a sense in which, through the proliferation of a cultural zeitgeist inclined towards demonising these experiences, we could be missing so much."
Montreal Nouveau Cinema Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, & screenings throughout the US, Europe, Canada, Australia.
Shorter Version Also Available On iTunes & Amazon in English, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German. Longer version in Original English and Subtitled in French.
The Full Length Festival Version Also Available on Distrify
Featuring interviews with the world’s foremost researchers, writers, and pioneers in psychedelic psychotherapy — these soul healers and scientific investigators are using everything from ancient decoctions to LSD and MDMA/Ecstasy as essential medicines, proposing that they be made available for research and therapeutic use.
An Oliver Hockenhull Film.
Moksha V. released in late 2014
“Writer, director and visual artist Oliver Hockenhull outlines the mounting peer-reviewed evidence that nonaddictive psychoactive substances (including ayahuasca, psilocybin, LSD and MDMA) can have profound healing effects when used in a safe, therapeutic setting. The benefits, say a conga line of clinicians, psychologists, neuroscientists and authors, extend from the treatment of alcoholism to the anxiety of terminal cancer patients, and beyond. This could have been a snorefest of talking heads in lesser hands, but through judicious editing and sublime visuals, the filmmaker succeeds with colourful advocacy for a new medical paradigm informed by “cognitive liberty” — the freedom to dictate one’s own consciousness. ”
Geoff Olson, Vancouver Courier.
“Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations.” Aldous Huxley
“This film takes a methodical approach in breaking down the societal taboos and controversy surrounding illicit psychedelic drugs. In doing so, Hockenhull has rallied an impressive and diverse panel of experts, who function as authoritative sources of information on enlightening scientific research regarding the medicinal value of illicit psychedelic drugs. Some of these revelations include the use of LSD (aka acid) as a potential cure for people suffering from alcoholism, and the utilization of MDMA for the treatment of war veterans who return from their combat experiences with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Given the right contexts and proper supervision, Hockenhull’s film asserts the powerful potential impact that these supposedly taboo psychedelic drugs can have on medical science. The information in the film is presented with enough clarity that even a layman can understand the scientific concepts.” CITR
In From Neurons to Nirvana , Oliver Hockenhull’s thorough exploration of banned psychedelic drugs brings a much-needed dose of sanity to the discussion about the use of ayahuasca, MDMA, LSD, psilocybin and marijuana. While proven to have beneficial medical applications, these drugs are treated on a par with hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine. The documentary makes extensive use of archive material and experiments with an array of visual graphics to make its points and shows how drugs act upon an individual. The fact that psychedelics are in the public domain made them a target, suggests Hockenhull, with Big Pharma’s philosophy being, “If you can’t patent it, then prohibit it.” Perhaps most interesting is his argument that responsible use of psychedelics could possibly open doors in our consciousness that could mean the difference between our “salvation or destruction.” FILMS WORTH WATCHING by Robert Alstead, Common Ground, 2013
This richly illustrated documentary is poised to tap into a phenomenon which has only recently and superficially touched the mainstream media. November 2008, CNNʼs Dr. Sanjay Gupta presented a segment on Iraq War PTSD veterans who testified to the efficacy of therapy enhanced by MDMA. A December 18, 2008 headline on a double-page spread inThe Economist stated, “Ecstasy may be good for those who can’t get over something truly horrible.” Even Fox Network ran a (misleading) headline stating that LSD might ‘extend the life of terminal ill patients’. What’s new is that for the first time in nearly two generations the use of these drugs is not being presented as harmful or as self-indulgent, but as a rational and valuable addition to therapeutic practice.
Banned worldwide from research labs for nearly 35 years, mind-altering drugs from Ecstasy to LSD are again becoming the focus of serious scientific study. Researchers in several centers, including John Hopkins and the University of California, are conducting clinical trial to treat a range of afflictions: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), addictions, and the psychological stresses suffered by late-stage terminal cancer patients. The initial results of all these studies is remarkable.
But the story is much bigger than these trials. Outside the research centers, a growing population is embarking on psychic adventures using all manner of exotic substances natural and synthetic, illegal and not-yet-illegal. Experimenters and clients of licensed therapists use these underground drugs not as escape routes, nor as addictive crutches, but in a quest for transformation, mental health, creativity, intellectual and spiritual enhancement and insight.
From Neurons to Nirvana introduces a vibrant spectrum of characters that champion psychoactive drugs as medicines and as enhancers. Noted contributors include Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss, director of the Beckley Foundation to Further Consciousness; Dr. Michael Mithoefer who conducted groundbreaking, successful posttraumatic stress disorder trials with MDMA; Dr. Dennis McKenna, author, ethnopharmacologist, expert on DMT and Ayahuasca, and Dr. Gábor Máté, the award winning Vancouver author and expert on addictions.
Using state of the art HD image processing, filmmaker Oliver Hockenhull intellectually engages his viewers with riveting subject matter, and uses a visually stunning approach to give the audience tantalizing glimpses into the exquisitely beautiful world of the psychedelic experience. From Neurons To Nirvana explores the promise of brave new advances in psychopharmacology and neuroscience, guiding the viewer in a thought-provoking journey, led by those determined to hold open the doors of perception.