Genghis Blues (1999)

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



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

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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)

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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 »

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User Reviews

One of the most inspiring movies I've seen!
3 October 1999 | by (Vancouver, BC, Canada) – See all my reviews

The movie revolves around the country of Tuva in Central Asia. Tuvans have an unusual style of singing, throatsinging, which produces several tones at once, sometimes very high or low. A blind American bluesman, Paul Pena, teaches himself to sing this way, and ends up going to Tuva to compete in their triennial throatsinging contest.

The description of the movie does not come close to describing it. Somehow the late Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Richard Feynman is involved, and his curiosity and vision drive the events. The amazing talent of Pena is shown in an unexpected context. And the culture and worth of the Tuvan people, exemplified by their national artist, Kongar-ol Ondar, is highlighted.

This documentary shows what is best about the human race, how fate draws people together, and what we have in common in spite of our obvious differences. It is one of the most inspiring movies I've seen.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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