Dirty Pictures

2010 USA
Duration: 80 mins


Early in his career, the brilliant chemist Alexander Shulgin worked for Dow Chemical. As long as he delivered commercial products, such as pesticides, he could work on whatever he wished with the rest of his time, so he synthesized different variations of the drug Ecstasy (MDMA) until Dow grew concerned with the potential risks and let Shulgin go. He kept on creating—and sampling with his wife, Ann—many different psychedelics, a practice they continue today. Shulgin, now 84, is considered the Godfather of Ecstasy, a moniker he disdains. Director Etienne Sauret spent years following the Shulgins to Egypt, Burning Man and on many other “trips.” The result is a complex portrait of a man who could have made millions at Dow but decided to follow his heart—and experiment on his brain.

Production Team

Etienne Sauret

Festival Screenings

Featured in the 2010 Mountainfilm Festival.