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At once whimsical and profound, Genghis Blues chronicles the journey of blind blues legend Paul Pena as he discovers the ancient art of Tuvan throat singing and participates in the national competition. Belic's brand of freestyle filmmaking brings an infectious energy to this documentary, which is both a powerful, personal portrait of a musician and the story of a unique cultural exchange. It all started with a 1977 dinner conversation in which renowned physicist Richard Feynman challenged his friend Ralph Leighton to find Tuva on the map. There it was, wedged between Siberia and Mongolia, and soon the two men became the first Americans to travel to Tuva. They eventually paved the way for the country's most famous singer, Kongar-ol Ondar, to perform in the United States. At about the same time, Paul Pena was scanning his shortwave radio and stumbled upon one of Ondar's songs. Fascinated, he spent the next decade teaching himself the techniques by which a singer can produce up to four notes simultaneously. Serendipity brought Pena to Ondar's stateside performance, and two years later, Pena and an eclectic group of filmmakers and musicians made a remarkable journey to Tuva. Where Pena suffers personal injustice from being black and disabled at home, he experiences overwhelming acceptance, respect, and admiration in Tuva. Belic's playfully earnest camera captures Pena's excitement as he travels through the country, experiencing the drama of competition, witnessing spectacular performances, and astounding audiences with his musical ability. Genghis Blues is a testament to the transformative powers of music.
Follows a blind Creole blues musician who learns the art of throatsinging and travels to Tuva in central Asia to compete in a national competition. Less a documentary than a travelogue, but all the better for it.
This documentary was hugely half-assed.
OK, it had a few nice moments... and now I know where Tuva is.
Academy Award nominee!! Get OUT!
Blind San Francisco Bluesman travels to Tuva (near Mongolia) to compete in international throatsinging competition. Exposes you to an entire culture you had no idea existed.
The idea related to this documentary sounded fantastic and I had high expectations when watching this. However, although, I was barely able to make it thru the entire movie, I did not feel Genghis Blues lived up to its praise.
I love documentaries. I love music. I love the idea of exploring cultures far removed from the typical ones we come across daily.
With all these things going for it, this movie ceased to be interesting. The ensemble that joined Pena seemed to me to be nothing more than a boring bunch of amateurish wannabe prima dona's, including the moody Pena himself.
The movie oversells Pena's ability as a throat singer and his understanding of the Tuvan culture and language. To his credit, it was remarkable that Pena, a blind man, with no obvious access to Tuvan language books, was able to learn any Tuvan at all.
The fact that he wins a "contest" wasn't all that spectacular. The other Tuvan singers were far better. I believe he won based on a style of singer for throat singers with lower voices.
All the supporting staff were drinking all the time and the "Michael Jordan of Tuva" guy seemed to be nothing more than a drunkard herdsman who craved all the attention he and his country was getting.
Yeah it was an "out there" idea. So what.