The Substance: Albert Hoffman’s LSD (2011)


The Substance: Albert Hofmann’s LSD is a 2011 documentary film directed by Martin Witz.

The film documents the coincidental discovery of the drug LSD by the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in 1943.


In 1943, the year in which the first A-bomb was built, Albert Hofmann discovered LSD, a substance that was to become an A-bomb of the mind. Fractions of a milligram are enough to turn our framework of time and space upside down. The story of a drug – its discovery in the Basel chemistry lab, the first experiments by Albert Hofmann on himself, the 1950s experiments of the psychiatrists, the consciousness researchers, the artists. Could it actually be possible to find a path to the core of our human existence by means of a chemical? Spirituality at the flick of a switch? Do the enigmatic effects of this drug really help us to better understand the human soul? Could LSD be an instrument of contemporary psychiatry? Of modern brain research?

Production & Filming Details

  • Narrator(s): Trevor J. Roling (English), Hanspeter Muller (German), and Mario Scarabelli (Italian).
  • Director(s): Martin Witz.
  • Producer(s):
    • Elda Guidinetti … producer.
    • Peter Luisi … co-producer.
    • Andres Pfäffli … producer.
    • Carl-Ludwig Rettinger … co-producer.
  • Writer(s): Martin Witz.
  • Music: Marcel Vaid.
  • Cinematography: Pio Corradi and Patrick Lindenmaier.
  • Editor(s): Stefan Kalin.
  • Production:
    • Ventura Film (presents).
    • RSI-Radiotelevisione Svizzera (in co-production with).
    • Teleclub AG (in co-production with) (as Teleclub).
    • Lichtblick Film- und Fernsehproduktion (I) (in co-production with) (as Lichtblick Filmproduktion).
    • Spotlight Media Production AG (in co-production with) (as Spotlight Media Productions).
  • Distributor(s):
    • Officine UBU (2012) (Italy) (all media).
    • Cinema Delicatessen (2012) (Netherlands) (theatrical).
    • I Wonder Pictures (2013) (Italy) (theatrical).
    • Mindjazz Pictures (2012) (Germany) (theatrical).
    • Film1 Sundance Channel (2015) (Netherlands) (TV) (limited).
    • Frenetic Films (2011) (Switzerland) (all media).
    • Icarus Films (2012) (USA) (all media).
    • Soda Pictures (2011) (UK) (DVD).
    • Yleisradio (YLE) (2012) (Finland) (TV).
  • Release Date: 07 August 2011 (Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland).
  • Running Time: 90 minutes.
  • Rating: 15.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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