Genghis Blues 1999 NR

Amazon Instant Video

(64) IMDb 7.9/10

This Oscar-nominated film follows the story of a blind blues musician and his triumphant trek to the forgotten land of Tuva and the mysterious art of khöömei, or throat-singing, a seemingly impossible form of singing that produces multiple vocal tones simultaneously.

Starring:
Paul Pena, Richard Feynmann
Runtime:
1 hour 24 minutes

Genghis Blues

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Roko Belic
Starring Paul Pena, Richard Feynmann
Supporting actors B.B. King
Studio Docurama
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Rental rights 3-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 64 customer reviews
Rather, it is a very human story of a blind man with a unique talent visiting a very old culture.
Jerry Saperstein
I love the work of Hun Huur Tu, and think this story is a great one of achievment and a nice highlight of the culture in Tuva and Paul Pena's musical gift.
A. Smethurst
I dont really know much about Tuvan music or Paul Pena but I really really think if you like blues music you'll love what this movie has to offer!
W. Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By James Ferguson VINE VOICE on March 12, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a scenario not even Richard Feynman could have imagined when he helped to form Friends of Tuva. Thanks to this group's effort to bring Tuvan throat singers to San Francisco, Paul Pena was able to realize a dream that lifted him out of the depths of dispair and take part in the tri-annual Tuvan throat singing competition in Kyzyl. This remarkable story not only tells the tale of Paul Pena, best known for penning Jet Airliner, but of the unconquerable spirit of Tuvans who for centuries were subjected to Chinese and Russian rule. Deep in their throats they came up with a harmony that has beguiled musicians the world over. But, it was Paul Pena who seemed to unlock the mystery to the western ear and not only take part but win over the Tuvan audience with his brand of kargyraa style singing. The most amazing part of the story to me is that in order to learn Tuvan, Paul had to learn Russian in Braile in order to translate the words into English, since Tuvan was so rarely heard beyond the steppes of Asia.

This film is so deeply satisfying in its honest presentation of events by the Belic brothers. The enormity of such an undertaking hit them like a thunderbolt when Mario Castella, one of the few other Americans to appreciate Tuvan throat singing had a heart attack, and Paul was running low on medication to treat his depression. Worried that it might be the drum the crew had bought as a souvenier, Kongar-ol Ondar, who had befriended Paul, had the evil spirit removed by a shaman. The storm passed and Paul and the crew were able to enjoy the remaining days in Tuva with Kongar taking them to his home village where he was finally able to get Paul up on a horse and complete this incredible journey.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Croft on August 24, 2004
Format: DVD
Filmmakers Roko and Adrian Belec graduated from college with the desire to "Never work a real job in their life". With an extraordinarily low budget, they decided to make a documentary film about the land of Tuva, a country at the north-western border of Mongolia. After reading Ralph Leighton's book "Tuva or Bust!", they contacted the author, who then introduced them to the blind blues guitarist Paul Pena.

Mr. Pena had taught himself to throat sing Tuvan music while listening to the CD "Tuva - Voices from the Centre of Asia". This was around the year 1991, during a period in which Paul was grieving the death of his wife. Alone, in a small apartment in San Francisco, the process of learning Tuvan multiple overtone vocal music provided some much needed distraction from his personal troubles.

Ralph Leighton was also an organizer of the group Friends of Tuva, which he co-founded with Nobel prize winning physicist Richard Feynman. The Friends of Tuva had invited some Tuvan musicians to America to sing as part of a cultural exchange program. During this visit, Mr. Pena formed friendships with the Tuvan vocalists and the idea for "Genghis Blues" was conceived.

Every three years, a throat singing competition is held in Tuva's capital, Kyzyl. Mr. Pena was invited to compete in a contest held there during the year of 1998. This film follows Paul Pena and his new friends on their journey to that remote land, which remains mostly untouched by Western Civilization. The resulting documentary is a story of the hardship of foreign travel, the rewards of cultural exchange, the shared love of music and the creative pursuit of filmmaking.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Anita on January 1, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This is simply a gem of a movie. Blues singer Paul Pena hears Tuvan throat-singing on short wave radio and is determined to find out what it is and where it comes from. This was years before world music was widely available and so it takes him a while to track down the source. When he does, he teaches himself this style of singing and before he knows it he's being sponsored to go to Tuva to take part in an international competition. This is a movie about music and you may find yourself singing along (or trying to) before the movie is over. You may understand why Paul Pena was so captivated by the sounds that he was determined to make these sounds for himself. If you're as swept away by this singing as I was, you'll want to hear other Tuvan music. But this is also a movie about a country and about friendship. In Tuva he meets and stays with Kongar-ol Ondar, a singer who is quite famous in his country. The hospitality of Ondar, and the warmth and genuine friendship between the two men, makes this much more than just a music documentary.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "none169" on December 5, 2000
Format: DVD
I saw this documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival a year or two ago. I had no idea at the time where Tuva was, or what throatsinging was, but a friend of mine had been telling me about it, so I thought I would check this out. I was stunned with how incredible this man's story was. I also enjoyed an insight into the culture of a tiny tiny country with its singular vocal styling. Those of us who went to see this that night were treated to the surprise or our lives. Kangor-al Ondar had travelled for several days from Tuva to Seattle to attend the showing of this documentary, and gave a short concert afterwards. It was an experience I will never ever forget.
You owe it to yourselves to check this DVD out. I guarantee it will be a story you have never heard before, and because of the remoteness of Tuva, you may never have the opportunity to hear of, ever again!
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