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

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

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

People who liked this also liked... 

On the Ropes (1999)
Documentary | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 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
Crumb (1994)
Documentary | Biography | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An intimate portrait of the controversial cartoonist and his traumatized family.

Director: Terry Zwigoff
Stars: Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky, Charles Crumb
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The history of the "Scottsboro Boys," a group of African American men who were victims of a racist miscarriage of justice that became a national controversy.

Directors: Daniel Anker, Barak Goodman
Stars: Frances McDormand, Stanley Tucci, Andre Braugher
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 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
    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
Shoah (1985)
Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

Claude Lanzmann's epic documentary recounts the story of the Holocaust through interviews with witnesses - perpetrators as well as survivors.

Director: Claude Lanzmann
Stars: Simon Srebnik, Michael Podchlebnik, Motke Zaïdl
Documentary | History | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The Palestinian terrorist group Black September holds Israeli athletes hostage at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich.

Director: Kevin Macdonald
Stars: Michael Douglas, Ankie Spitzer, Jamal Al Gashey
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A documentary about the Enron corporation, its faulty and corrupt business practices, and how they led to its fall.

Director: Alex Gibney
Stars: John Beard, Tim Belden, Barbara Boxer
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

This documentary tells four stories of Apartheid in South Africa, as seen through the eyes of the Truth and Reconciliation commission. White soldiers who have killed ANC activists, black ... See full summary »

Directors: Deborah Hoffmann, Frances Reid
Stars: Mary Burton, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Mongezi Manqina
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A documentary about the inventor of the first electronic synthesiser instrument and his subsequent life after he was abducted by the KGB as well as a history of his instrument.

Director: Steven M. Martin
Stars: Leon Theremin, Robert Moog, Clara Rockmore
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Robert McNamara, John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro
Under the Sun (1998)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Olof lives alone on a farm after the death of his mother. Unable to read and write, he is dependent on his younger friend, Erik. Olof advertises for a housekeeper, and Ellen arrives. During summer Olof's heart and Erik's desires develops.

Director: Colin Nutley
Stars: Rolf Lassgård, Helena Bergström, Johan Widerberg
Edit

Cast

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

Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

28 October 1999 (New Zealand)  »

Also Known As:

Dzsingiz blues  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$323,881 (USA) (24 March 2000)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Connections

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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Fascinating music, people, film.
4 February 2000 | by (Austin, Texas) – See all my reviews

In 1995, an eclectic group of San Francisco musicians and their friends took a trip to the remote Russian-Mongolian region of Tuva, where one of them entered a throat-singing contest. The whole thing was filmed and this is the result.

Paul "Earthquake" Pena is a blind San Francisco blues singer-guitarist-harmonica player who has worked with the likes of B.B. King, Jerry Garcia, John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, and T-bone Walker. In the early '70's, he made a rock album that included the song "Jet Airliner", later covered and made into a hit by the Steve Miller Band. The important thing about Pena, as far as this film is concerned, however, is that he is a self-taught master of Tuvan-style throat-singing.

Throat-singing is a style of singing where one sings two or three notes at once, with some very interesting harmonic effects. As pointed out in examples in the film, the sounds are similar to nose-flutes, Jews-harps, Australian dijeridoos, and leaf-blowers.

Pena's adventures begin when he goes to a concert in Frisco given by Kongar-al Ondar, who is described as the Elvis of Tuvan throat-singing. Ondar hears Pena sing and invites him to go to Tuva to compete in a throat-singing contest. A somewhat bizarre organization known as the Friends of Tuva arranges the trip for Pena, his trombone-playing friend, a recording engineer, and an eccentric elderly DJ. They also arrange to have the trip filmed by Roko Belic and his brother.

The film is mostly about how Pena wins the hearts of Tuvans by singing traditional Tuvan folk songs, and then combining the singing style with the Delta blues he specializes in. It also concentrates on the friendship that is forged between Pena and Ondar.

While this is not exactly top-of-the-line stuff (Hi-Def video just ain't no substitute for film), and we never really learn about anyone besides Pena and the late physicist Richard Feynman, who co-founded the Friends of Tuva, this is truly a fascinating movie, so I gave it an 8.


9 of 10 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