Descending the Mountain

Feature Documentary Film, 78 minutes
Subtitels: English, French, Spanish, Dutch and German
Location: Switzerland
Production: Switzerland/the Netherlands
World premiere: Fall 2021

This film takes you on a journey of mystical revelations through magic mushrooms and meditations.
In ‘Descending the Mountain’ psychiatrist Franz Vollenweider and Zen master Vanja Palmers create a ground-breaking scientific experiment located on the majestic Mount Rigi in Switzerland.
The film shows if and how, when united, psilocybin and meditation might expand our understanding of the nature of consciousness.

Leaving the iconic visuals of the 60’s behind, ‘Descending the Mountain’ uses animation, sound, and A.I. to create a new visual language for the transcendent experience of oneness with nature.

Descending the Mountain is exemplary for the current psychedelic renaissance. In the hallucinating setting of the Swiss mountains and the serenity of a monastery surrounded by nature, Maartje Nevejan takes us on an audio-visual journey through expanded consciousness. As in her previous work ‘Are You There?’ she uses various subtle techniques to document the enhanced reality of inner experiences. Visually surprising and with a mesmerizing sound track this film literally opens doors of perception akin to the effects of psychedelics.”

Patricia Pisters
Prof Media and film studies University Amsterdam

Synopsis & trailer

What happens when you administer psilocybin to experienced zen meditators? A neuroscientist and a zen master carry out a double-blind experiment on a sphinxlike mountain in Switzerland. Their goal: to examine the nature of consciousness. 

These substances are not for the sick only, they belong in the hands of meditation”
Albert Hofmann

Excactly fifty years after the ban on psychedellics a group of Zen meditators – who have never used any psychedelic substances before  –  are given psilocybin on the last day of a 5-day retreat. Half the group receives a placebo.

Mystical experiences are induced through a combination of deep meditation and psilocybin, a psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms. 
This scientific experiment, which was published in Nature magazine in 2020, may lift the controversy that has clouded the realm of psychedelics for far too long. 

Continue reading “Synopsis & trailer”

Where to see


Nijmegen Netherlands—Inscience Film Festival 11/11/2021
San Francisco, USA – International Buddist Film Festival 10/12/2021
New York City, USA – The psychedelic film & music festival 12/12/2021

Scientific conferences-Special screenings

Berlin, Germany – Mind Foundation – Insight 10/9/2021
Lausanne, Switzerland – the Alps Conference 29/10/2021
Amsterdam, NL – SOHO-house 02/11/2021
Rotterdam, NL – Transcend- NRC , Van Noordt 14/11/2021
Stockholm, Sweden – Osmond Foundation 22/11/2021
Gothenburg, Sweden – Osmond Foundation 23/11/2021
Milan/Ticino, Italy/Sw – CMC- International 11/12/2021
Copenhagen, Denmark – Psykedelisk Samfund Winter 2021


In the Netherlands from 11/11/2021

Amsterdam, De Balie/ Rialto VU. Het Ketelhuis: dagelijks 19.30 uur (vr. 12 en zo. 14: 19:30 p.m. with Q & A with the director)
Arnhem, Focus Filmtheater
Bergen NH, CineBergen (Sunday 14 november)
Den Bosch, Verkadefabriek
Eindhoven, Natlab
Groningen, Groninger Forum (Wednesday 17 november)
Hilversum, Filmhuis
Leeuwarden, Slieker (Tuesday 16 november)
Leiden, Kijkhuis
Maastricht, CineBergen (Sunday 14 nov) en Filmtheater Lumière (Tuesday 23 nov)
Nijmegen, LUX
Rotterdam, LantarenVenster
Utrecht, Filmtheater ’t Hoogt (di. 18:45 p.m. with Q & A with the director)
Zwolle, Filmtheater Fraterhuis
Zutphen, Luxor

Where to hear

The soundtrack of this film contains music composed by Cosmo Sheldrake and Michel Banabila.

Read more about these amazing artists

Soundtrack for ‘Descending The Mountain’ @ Spotify

Descending the Mountain – EP, Michel Banabila

Wake up calls, Cosmo Sheldrake

The making of

Behind the scenes of Descending the Mountain

“If approached respectfully and under good conditions, these substances have the power to facilitate the real deep spiritual mystical experience”

– ‘Descending the Mountain’

This video shows the making of the wonderfull animations (by Douwe Dijkstra), used in the movie.

Enjoy lots of ‘behind the scenes’ photos….

Continue reading “The making of”

The Team

Team photo, from left to right:

Fokke van Saane – Sound
Jean Counet – Camera
Vanja Palmers – Zen master
Franz Vollenweider – Psychiatrist and Neuroscientist
Maartje Nevejan – Director movie
Annette Badenhorst – Co producer and production Switzerland
Not in the picture above, co-producers:
Monette de Botton (
Bohdana Tamas

Monette de Botton

Bohdana Tamas

Continue reading “The Team”