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Dying to Know: Ram Dass & Timothy Leary

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Dying to Know: Ram Dass & Timothy Leary is an intimate portrait celebrating two very complex, controversial characters in an epic friendship that shaped a generation.

In the early 1960's, Harvard Psychology Professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert began probing the edges of consciousness through their experiments with psychedelics. Dr. Leary became the LSD guru, challenging convention, questioning authority, and spawned a global counter culture movement, landing in prison after Nixon called him, "the most dangerous man in America." Dr. Alpert journeyed to India becoming Ram Dass, a spiritual teacher for an entire generation who still continues his teaching of service through compassion.

With footage spanning 80 years the film invites us to ponder questions about life, drugs, consciousness and the biggest mystery in the human landscape: death.

In 1995 after years of estrangement Leary found out that he was dying of cancer. The first person he called was Ram Dass. In the 60s they had collaborated on a book entitled, ‘The Psychedelic Experience‘ which was based on The Tibetan Book of The Dead and explored the similarities of the psychedelic experience and the dying process. Each holding a remarkably different point of view about death they share their thoughts/perspectives and rekindle the love they have always felt for one another.

In this provocative film the viewer is a fly on the wall, observing an intimate conversation between Leary and Ram Dass just a few months before Leary’s death. It is a genuine exploration and an emotional respectful goodbye between two life long companions.

ILLUMINATE Film Festival Impact Award Winner

  • Year
  • Runtime
    95 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Gay Dillingham
  • Screenwriter
    David Leach
  • Producer
    Gay Dillingham
  • Executive Producer
    Andrew Ungerleider, Dal LaMagna, Giancarlo Canavesio, Sarah Johnson
  • Co-Producer
    Michael Donelly
  • Cast
    "Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Lama Tsultrim Allione, John Perry Barlow, Andrew Weil, Joan Halifax, Joanna Harcourt Smith, Zach Leary, Huston Smith, Ralph Metzner, Peggy Mellon Hitchcock, Dean Chamberlain
  • Cinematographer
    Diana Taylor, Alan Kozlowski, Tao Ruspoli, David Aubrey
  • Editor
    David Leach
  • Composer
    Steve Postell