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The documentary film on the life, music and legacy of one of a kind multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk
The documentary film on the life, music and legacy of one of a kind multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk
191 backers pledged $15,375 to help bring this project to life.


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This is a great big beautiful film - Rahsaan Roland Kirk in his glory in stunning archives from film and TV, Super 8 home movies, original graphics, intimate interviews...

and it has historical and cultural significance.



About Rahsaan

Rahsaan Roland Kirk was a one of a kind musician, personality, activist and windmill slayer who despite being blind, becoming paralyzed, and enduring America’s racial injustices, did not relent.

He constantly challenged himself, his audiences and preconceived notions about what music should be. He sought out boundaries and hurdled them from a very young age. As a teenager, inspired by a dream, he started playing two saxophones simultaneously. Soon thereafter, he cultivated the talent of playing three saxophones simultaneously. His bold experimentation meant that he was largely misunderstood in his lifetime, and even sometimes dismissed as a gimmick. Though he routinely received awards for his musicianship from the jazz community, he was far from a straight-ahead jazz musician and therefore an outsider. At the same time, his firm roots in blues and traditional jazz, meant that he was never truly embraced by the avant garde. Rahsaan was truly unique.

Rahsaan’s main occupation, as he put it, was simply “Sound”. But beyond his explorations into sound, there was much more. In the late sixties he started a political movement with the goal of getting increased national exposure for jazz, or what he termed “Black Classical Music”. He gathered musicians and like-minded people, they wrote a manifesto and proceeded to stage grass-roots protests. They dubbed themselves The Jazz and People’s Movement. Their main target was television. They would buy tickets to tapings of live shows (Merv Griffin, Dick Cavett and others) and smuggle in small instruments and noise-makers. Once the show started taping, on a signal from Rahsaan, they would stand up and unleash a wild cacophony – disrupt the show and make taping impossible. Their idea was that this would spark a dialogue (which it did), and eventually open up television as a forum for their music, which they felt was one of the greater contributions to American culture and not getting its fair due.

It worked. A flurry of television appearances ensued. The movement culminated with an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show featuring Rahsaan and other jazz giants of the era such as Charles Mingus, Roy Haynes and Archie Schepp. Rahsaan and Black Classical Music had conquered America’s television airwaves.

In 1975, at the apex of his career and a seemingly unstoppable force, Rahsaan suffered a serious stroke at his home in New Jersey. The majority of his right side was paralyzed, including his right arm. People thought it was the end of his musical career. But Rahsaan had other plans in mind. Within a few months, he had his horns altered so he could play with the use of only one hand, and continued to astonish. He was on dialysis regularly, but continued to play, record, and tour, literally until the day he died (on his way home from a gig in Indiana in 1977). He was 42 years old.

The Case of The Three Sided Dream tells the story of Rahsaan Roland Kirk through intimate interviews with his wives, son, musicians, and friends, and interweaves stunning archives from television, film, home movies, photographs, music, and original graphics.

The Case of The Three Sided Dream is being realized with the full support of Rahsaan’s wife Dorthaan Kirk and son Rory Kirk. The film was started several years ago, with a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts. It remains unfinished largely due to the substantial cost of licensing the archives. Completion of the film is slated for 2013, though the last component – funding for archival licensing, has yet to be secured at this time.

“We hope you stay on the case. Don’t get inside the case ’cause if you get inside the case, they’ll shut the case up on you and you’ll never get out again.”

-Rahsaan Roland Kirk

To see more video, go here -

To see other work by Adam Kahan, go here -

Risks and challenges

The greatest risk and/or challenge for this film continues to be - securing funding for licensing of film/video archives and music.

Most of the money raised from this Kickstarter campaign will act as seed money for those archival licensing costs. (Some dollars will go toward the original graphic design in the film.)

Because the archival licensing fees are so high, (easily four times the money we are asking for, and this is standard), this means that we will still need to do fundraising, beyond Kickstarter, in order to finish the film.

And we are.

But we desperately need these Kickstarter dollars to keep us going.

Everything else for completion of the film is pretty much "in the can". All interviews have been shot. A 90 minute roughcast exists, and we are working on the fine cut at the time of writing this.

You should also know that this film has shown at the IFP Market, as a work in progress (under a different title) where it garnered interest from multiple broadcasters and distributors (HBO, PBS, NBPC, Cinetic, Films Transit, IFC Films...), all of whom are interested in seeing it in it's final form (with archives cleared).

We hope to finish the film in 2013 (again with your contribution...)

I think you've got the idea...

Please support The Case of the Three Sided Dream.

Thank you!

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    A copy of the film and a t-shirt with original graphic design from the film.

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Funding period

- (32 days)