Genghis Blues (1999) is a documentary film directed by Roko Belic. It centers on the journey of blind American singer Paul Pena to the isolated Russian Republic of Tuva due to his interest in Tuvan throat singing.
|Directed by||Roko Belic|
|Produced by||Roko Belic|
|Music by||Paul Pena|
|Distributed by||Roxie Releasing|
The documentary captures the story of blind blues musician Paul Pena. After a brush with fame and success in the 1970s, Pena's fortunes faded as he dealt with career and health problems.
While listening to shortwave radio, Pena heard a broadcast of throatsinging, the Tuvan art of manipulating overtones while singing to make higher frequencies more distinguishable, essentially making it possible to sing two notes at once. Pena, over the course of several years, taught himself to throatsing to a very impressive degree. He eventually attended a concert of throatsinging and after the concert impressed one of the throatsingers, Kongar-ol Ondar, who invited him to visit Tuva, a republic of the Russian Federation and a formerly independent country from 1921 and 1944 under the name of People's Republic of Tannu Tuva and the home of throatsinging, to sing in the triennial throatsinging festival held there.
The entire journey, as well as the extraordinary mix of cultures and music, is captured in the documentary.
The Belic brothers shot the film with two Hi8 camcorders and edited it themselves. They were allowed to edit the film during nighttime at a professional editing facility. It took them three and a half years to finish the film after they shot it. All this time they lived on $500 a month in an apartment above an auto repair shop. Christopher Nolan, a longtime friend of the brothers, is credited for his "editorial assistance".