The Case of the Three Sided Dream

  • Adam Kahan
  • United States
  • 2014
  • 87 min
  • International Premiere
  • Music Documentary
“The nose knows” is one of the pithy sayings of flamboyant jazz wunderkind Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1935-1977). The words roll across the screen in ornate, flaming letters – in fact, The Case of the Three Sided Dream regularly presents such text fragments graphically on the screen. During long improvisations, Rahsaan – the name came to him in a dream – sometimes played three wind instruments at the same time, including with his nose. He was blinded by eye drops shortly after he was born, although he preferred to refer to himself as “a man that doesn’t see too well.” But he was blessed with a silver tongue; a fellow musician noted that, when onstage, Rahsaan liked to talk to the audience, more so than the other masters of jazz – a genre Rahsaan referred to as “black classical music.” The life story of this exceptional man is told by members of Rahsaan’s entourage, including colleagues, his widow and his son. Their stories are interspersed with short animations and archive footage, including from the Ed Sullivan Show and the Montreux Jazz Festival. In this way, we get a virtuoso portrait of a contrary figure: a fanatical collector of animal sounds, believer in an eccentric “religion of dreams” and champion of civil rights for African Americans – which resulted in the composition of a piece of music called Blacknuss that only uses the black piano keys.


  • 87 min
  • color / black and white
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: English
Adam Kahan
Adam Kahan
Alex Baev
Adam Kahan, Olivia Barratier
Sasha Mandel

IDFA history

International Premiere
Music Documentary

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IDFA history

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