Genghis Blues (1999)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.0/10 from 1,142 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 32 critic

San Francisco bluesman and composer, Paul Peña makes a musical pilgrimage to the land of Tuva.



0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

This real-life documentary explores the passionate & energetic presence of renowned Italian violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg (she moved to the Unites States at the age of eight to study ... See full summary »

Director: Paola di Florio
Stars: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Aging Cuban musicians whose talents had been virtually forgotten following Castro's takeover of Cuba, are brought out of retirement by Ry Cooder, who travelled to Havana in order to bring the musicians together, resulting in triumphant performances of extraordinary music, and resurrecting the musicians' careers.

Director: Wim Wenders
Stars: Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González
Documentary | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In this film made over ten years, filmmaker Barbara Sonneborn goes on a pilgrimage to the Vietnamese countryside where her husband was killed. She and translator (and fellow war widow) Xuan... See full summary »

Director: Barbara Sonneborn
Stars: Xuan Ngoc Nguyen, Barbara Sonneborn
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A documentary on the influential musician Scott Walker.

Director: Stephen Kijak
Stars: Damon Albarn, Dot Allison, Marc Almond
Tabloid (2010)
Documentary | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A documentary on a former Miss Wyoming who is charged with abducting and imprisoning a young Mormon Missionary.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Joyce McKinney, Peter Tory, Troy Williams
On the Ropes (1999)
Documentary | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The story of three young boxers and their coach who is determined to guide them in a positive direction in and out of the ring.

Directors: Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen
Stars: Sam Doumit, Martin Goldman, Harry Keitt
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The Long Day Closes is the story of eleven-year-old "Bud." A sad and lonely boy, Bud struggles through his days. With cinema as his main source of solace, he haunts the local movie-house. ... See full summary »

Director: Terence Davies
Stars: Leigh McCormack, Marjorie Yates, Anthony Watson
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An in-depth look at the rise and fall of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, including interviews with the scandalized, former politician.

Director: Alex Gibney
Stars: Eliot Spitzer, Michael Schwendeman, Kim Allen
Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The remarkable story of The Weather Underground, radical activists of the 1970s, and of radical politics at its best and most disastrous.

Directors: Sam Green, Bill Siegel
Stars: Lili Taylor, Pamela Z, Jim Lange
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A monastery high atop the mountains of northwest China ... the living room of a family confronted with terminal illness ... the office of renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks ... the Wailing ... See full summary »

Director: Ben Byer
Stars: Stanley Appel, Barbara Byer, Ben Byer
Dancemaker (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A look at Paul Taylor (1930- ) and his dance company over several months in 1997. Preparation of Taylor's piece, "Piazzolla Caldera," from conception and rehearsals to opening night at City... See full summary »

Director: Matthew Diamond
Stars: Andrew Asnes, Rachel Berman Benz, Ross Kramberg
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

If you could make your deaf child hear, would you? Academy Award-nominated Sound and Fury follows the intimate, heart-rending tale of the Artinians, an extended family with deaf and hearing... See full summary »

Director: Josh Aronson
Stars: Jaime Leigh Allen, Jemma Braham, Freeda Cat


Credited cast:
Richard Feynman ...
Himself (archive footage)
Kongar-ol Ondar
Paul Pena
Aislinn Scofield ...


The extraordinary odyssey of a U.S. musician of Cape Verdean ancestry to Tannu Tuva, in central Asia, where nomadic people throat sing more than one note simultaneously, using vocal harmonics. A bluesman, Paul Pena, blind and recently widowed, taught himself throat singing and was by chance invited to the 1995 throat-singing symposium in Kyzyl. Helped by the "Friends of Tuva," Pena makes the arduous journey. Singing in the deep, rumbling kargyraa style, Pena gives inspired performances at the festival, composes songs in Tuvan, washes his face in sacred rivers, expresses the disorientation of blindness in foreign surroundings, and makes a human connection with everyone he meets. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

28 October 1999 (New Zealand)  »

Also Known As:

Dzsingiz blues  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$32,606 (USA) (9 July 1999)


$323,881 (USA) (24 March 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


See  »

Did You Know?


Director Christopher Nolan receives one of his earliest credits on this documentary, when he is listed under 'Editorial Assistance'. When he spent 3 years in Chicago as a child, he was friends with Roko and Adrian Belic and the three of them made short Super 8 movies together. See more »


References Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Excellent, Heart Wrenching.
27 January 2007 | by (Chicago) – See all my reviews

This is an excellent documentary, one of the best if not the best of 1999. Very sad, and moving as well as incredibly intriguing.

The film chronicles Paul Pena an old musician who was plagued by illness and blind from birth. While surfing on his ham radio Paul hears Tuvan throat singing and searches all over the place to find the source of this bizarre and fascinating music. He becomes a natural throat singer and travels to Tuva to compete in a competition.

Beautiful music throughout the film, and the Tuvan countryside looks as if it is a mystical land inhabited by friendly descendent's of Genghis Kahn who maintain a rich and textured culture.

This is worth while for anyone who is interested in music, documentaries or Tuva.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Can you sing it Tuvan-style? mfdesimone
Feynman juliewhite
Discuss Genghis Blues (1999) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page