Genghis Blues (1999)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB.  USA, 1999.  Screenplay by Roko Belic.  Produced by .  Music by , .  Film Editing by Roko Belic.  

Musician and composer , most famous for his blues music, became an enthusiast for the art of Tuvan throat singing after hearing a chance performance on the radio some years before making this documentary.  His fascination with both the music and culture of Tuva led him to stage a trip to the small nation (formerly a part of the Soviet Union, later independent and now a part of Mongolia) and take part in their music festival. Learning the language and even the style of singing, Pena became a local success for the people there, who had never had a celebrity (even a moderately famous one) take such an interest in their culture before. This entertaining documentary follows Pena on his difficult excursion as he overcomes many obstacles (Pena is blind, which provides a few wrinkles in his comfort when he gets to this very foreign country) but easily wins over the very hospitable people around him. The music, as odd as it is to our western ears, is terrific and provides for a very interesting and unique cultural learning experience.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Documentary Feature

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