When we told our publicist Josh Baran that we had rented the 900+ seats Tribeca Arts Center Theater for the World Premiere of Neurons to Nirvana: Understanding Psychedelic Medicines in NYC, he said we were crazy. "People in NYC are so solicited that we you should send maximum 100 invites, and be happy if 50 people will show up" were his words. Then he proceeded to tell us a number of real stories where that had been the exact outcome.
Well, an empty theatre of nearly 1000 seats looks very intimidating indeed:
We had a formidable task ahead, but we did not get discouraged. In our arsenal: weeks and weeks of social media efforts, hundreds of personal emails and calls, some digital paid advertisements, a selected series of special offers, strategic partnerships with like-minded companies, listings in Timeout NYC and other media outlets
...and lots of hard work to save precious funds, like glueing the posters ourselves:
The efforts paid off and then some! We were in for a great surprise: Two days before the screening all tickets were sold out! Then we began to get calls from media, VIPs, late comers of every sort. We actually had to add some 20 or 30 more chairs and turn people away. It was spectacular.
Among the attendees were actress Susan Sarandon & designer Dona Karan.
Producer Giancarlo Canavesio who introduced the film almost shed tears of joy.
One reporter wrote: "Gathered at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, last Saturday evening, were more than 1,000 people from all walks of life from Burning Man regulars to medical researchers and shamans. There was an electric pulse of energy as the 913 seat theater buzzed with conversation and speculation in the moments before the premier of Neurons to Nirvana a documentary on understanding psychedelic medicines."
During the projection the audience was very attentive. The long standing ovation when the credits rolled confirmed the extremely positive reception. From the same reporter: "Following the premiere, leading medical doctors and experts appearing throughout the movie spoke in detail about the possible benefits and concerns associated with the use of these compounds. They believe psychedelic medicines have the power to relieve pain, suffering and symptoms related to cancer pain, mental illnesses, Attention Deficit Disorder and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This exploration also delves into multidimensional quantum physics, ancient indigenous shamanism, a short history on psychedelics and the politics involved. The film highlights the obstacles researchers in this field face. In the past pharmaceuticals companies and politicians have been very active in preventing the exploration of alternative medicines. Now that tide is beginning to turn, will the future of modern medicine accept these highly controversial alternatives as viable solutions?"
For the World Premiere we inaugurated a format that has been the tonic in all our N2N screenings: to make each screening more than a film, more like an event to spark conversation and create debate by bringing in notable psychedelic researchers to have a live panel after the film.
Our roster for the night couldn't be more impressive:
Rick Doblin, President MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies)
Gabor Maté, Addiction & ADD expert, best selling author In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts
Jeremy Narby, Anthropologist & Author In The Cosmic Serpent, Intelligence in Nature
Jag Davies, Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)
Roy Haber, Legendary attorney for the Santo Daime
The Q & A was presented by directors Mikki Willis and Oliver Hockehull
The panel was moderated by the brilliant Hamilton Morris science editor of Vice magazine and host of Hamilton's Pharmacopea (ViceTV)
To conclude and historical evening, panelists and friends went for dinner at the producer's loft.
Thanks to our fantastic team, the premiere was a fantastic success.