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Gambling, Gods and LSD

Year: 2002
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 180 min
Director: Peter Mettler
Producer: Alexandra Gill, Cornelia Seitler, Ingrid Veninger
Executive Producer: Peter Mettler, Atom Egoyan, Andreas Züst
Writer: Peter Mettler
Cinematographer: Peter Mettler
Editor: Peter Mettler, Roland Schlimme
Sound: Peter Mettler, Peter Bräker
Music: Fred Firth, Henryk Gorecki, Dimitri de Perrot
Production Company: Grimthorpe Film

A unique and audacious film that took ten years to complete (and shot between 1996 and 1999), Gambling, Gods and LSD is an experimental documentary that defies easy categorization. Described by visionary director Peter Mettler as being about "the human quest for transcendence and meaning, the denial of death, the illusion of safety and our relationship to nature," the film encompasses a range of styles and approaches, from travelogue to music video, from essay to video art.

The film takes us on a journey of discovery to various parts of the globe, observing the different ways in which people seek transcendence. Mettler interviews heroin addicts, gamblers, born-again Christians, and ninety-seven-year-old Albert Hoffman, the inventor of LSD, each of them seeking to express the meaning of their life.

Beginning with an evangelical gathering at a church near the Toronto airport where worshippers writhe on the floor in a state of orgasmic rapture, the camera takes us to Las Vegas, Arizona, Switzerland and southern India. We see a hotel being demolished in Las Vegas as a young woman watches in a dreamlike state from her hotel room. A teenage girl is strapped to a machine in an erotic pose as a sex-shop owner describes his Electro-erotic stimulator. Two Swiss heroin addicts talk about their highs and lows; an Hispanic card player shows us the cremated remains of his wife in a red scarf; we visit a dog race in Zurich and experience fire dancing on a beach in India.

Everywhere along the way, the same themes continue to emerge: thrill-seeking, luck, destiny, faith, expanding perception and the craving for security in an uncertain world. Fact joins with fantasy as the search for meaning and the quest for ecstacy begin to merge.

Blending documentary observation with lyrical camera work and location sound with aural sculpture, Mettler combines arrestingly beautiful imagery with richly textured soundscapes. The result is an audio-visual composition whose movements challenge our preconceptions. Named one of Canada’s Top Ten of 2002 by an independent panel of filmmakers, programmers, journalists and industry professionals, Gambling, Gods and LSD is a lucid and personal portrait of our times.

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