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Genghis Blues (1999)

Cast: Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ralph Leighton, more...
Director: Roko Belic, Roko Belic, Adrian Belic, more...
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: New Video Group
Genre: Documentary, Music, Biographies, Documentary, Music
Running Time: 90 min.
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

The tiny nation of Tuva, located between Siberia and Mongolia, is home to an unusual musical tradition known as throat singing, in which vocalists produce resonant tones from deep in their throats. The masters of this form are able to sing three or four notes at a time, in effect allowing them to harmonize with themselves. Paul Pena is an American blues singer and guitarist who has worked with the likes of Bonnie Raitt and B.B. King. One day, he heard a program of Tuvan throat singing on the radio and was immediately fascinated by this remarkable, otherworldly music. Pena began the arduous task of teaching himself to sing in the Tuvan manner, a feat all the more remarkable since he had no guide other than a handful of recordings. After several years, word of the American throat singer traveled back to Tuva, and Genghis Blues documents Pena's triumphant journey to Kyzyl, where he was invited to perform for a festival and symposium on traditional Tuvan harmonic singing. The isolation that Pena feels as a blind man is contrasted by the joyous warmth with which he is received by his Tuvan partners in music. Genghis Blues proved to be an audience favorite in screenings at the 1999 Sundance, Rotterdam and San Francisco Film Festivals. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Exclusive Interview

"Beyond the Call, a portrait of the men behind Knightsbridge International, is easily one of the best documentaries of the year." Hannah Eaves, not one to make such endorsements lightly, talks with Adrian Belic about his followup to the Oscar-nominated Genghis Blues. Full article >>

Special Features:

  • Concert footage
  • Running commentary
  • Interview with filmmakers
  • Paul Pena bio

You might also enjoy:
The Saltmen of Tibet
This lovely documentary also takes you on a pilgrimage to a far off land

Buena Vista Social Club
Also an engaging portrait of unheralded musicians on personal journeys toward redemption; extraordinary music

GreenCine Member Reviews

takes you along on an extraordinary journey by bsuppe September 7, 2006 - 9:52 PM PDT
Hard to remember when I saw a documentary more low budget or more engaging. It starts a little slow, but as you get to know Paul Pena and travel with him to Tuva, it's impossible not to be sucked in. Inspirational and eye opening.

Uplifting by EDonaldson June 15, 2004 - 1:16 PM PDT
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
While the videography is low quality, the poignancy of the tale makes it very worthwhile. I absolutely love this film!

Looks Boring! Views Incredibly by nuways April 22, 2004 - 8:29 PM PDT
9 out of 10 members found this review helpful
Sometimes when you put in a DVD and it's a documentary and you get VIDEO instead of FILM - it's a sign you're in for a long ride....not in this case.....I feel I have been enlightened, engaged, entranced, and encouraged to DO after watching this film.....I laughed often, cried once, and smiled many times....The description on the sleeve and the picture on the cover make it look so incredibly boring - and it just left those stereotypes in the DUST!!! This is a touching account of a man named Paul Pena, who after wathcing this film, you will never forget!

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.66)
176 Votes
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Docurama List 2
Other lists: Docurama list #1, 3 and 4.
GreenCine's Official 50 Best Documentaries List!
Each of these inspiring documentaries will take you to a world you've never been or tell you a story you've never heard, and deserve a place in the archives. One prerequisite: the films had to be currently available on DVD.

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