Genghis Blues

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Genghis Blues
Genghis blues.jpg
Directed by Roko Belic
Produced by Roko Belic and Adrian Belic
Starring Paul Pena (Himself)
Music by Pena
Kongar-ool Ondar
Distributed by Roxie Releasing
Release dates
  • January 1999 (1999-01) (Sundance Film Festival)
  • July 9, 1999 (1999-07-09) (U.S. limited)
  • November 30, 2000 (2000-11-30) (Australia)
  • May 25, 2000 (2000-05-25) (Germany)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English, Russian, Tuvan

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.

It won the 1999 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for a Documentary. It was also nominated for an Academy Award in 2000 in the Best Documentary Feature category.[1]


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-ool Ondar, who invited him to visit Tuva, a province of Russia, a formerly independent country and the home of throatsinging to sing in the triennial throatsinging festival held there.

The entire journey is captured in the documentary, as well as the extraordinary mix of cultures and music.


The Belic brothers shot the film with two Hi8 camcorders and edited it themselves. They were allowed to edit the film during nighttime at the professional editing facility. It took them three and a half years to finish the film after they shot it. All this time they lived for $500 a month in an apartment above an auto repair shop.[2]


  1. ^ "NY Times: Genghis Blues". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  2. ^ "Finding Their Tuva". 

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