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GENGHIS BLUES

SYNOPSIS:
Blind American blues singer Paul Pena discovered the art of throatsinging while listening to Radio Moscow on shortwave more than fifteen years ago. Emanating from the autonomous republic of Tuva, located between Mongolia and Siberia, multi-harmonic "khoomei" (throatsinging) remained almost unknown in the west until the 1990's. Genghis Blues charts Pena's incorporation of throatsinging into his own music and his entry in Tuva's singing contest in 1995.

"Genghis Blues is an unforgettable experience. The elements are extraordinary, the location exotic and the outcome profoundly moving. 'Tuvan throat singing?' The fact that this is a known and indeed accepted practice found at one of the world's most remote outposts, is a real eye opener in itself! I was wide-eyed and all ears as the story unfolded, and indeed it is a stretch for the musical ear. The way the human voice is placed with multiple octave overtones exposed is nothing short of spectacular. In fact the sounds created resemble those created by a didgeridoo. At first awkward to the ear and sometimes jarring, Tuvan throatsinging slowly becomes beautiful to us as we open the door to what it symbolises. It suddenly opens up a fresh, uncomplicated and pure world. I was fascinated by all of it from a musical point of view, the discovery of this Tuvan community and of the richness of Paul Pena's story. But more than anything, Genghis Blues is a human story, a moving and poignant glimpse of a unique blues musician, whose talents, struggles and vulnerabilities are exposed in a community filled with honesty and gentleness. This is a mesmerising and haunting experience."
Louise Keller

"Don't let anyone tell you too many details about this beautiful documentary. Stop them after they say "you've got to see it" and discover it for yourself. The basics barely tell the story as Pena relates his fascination for this incredible vocal form (impossible to describe, it simply has to be heard) and embarks on one of the most emotionally affecting cross-cultural experiences you're ever likely to see. The details of Pena's discovery of "khoomei" (throatsinging) are amazing enough but wait until the support cast and crew assemble for the trip to Tuva. I spent the first half hour with my jaw on the floor marvelling at how this collection of oddballs made it to Tuva in the first place. The wonder of it all steps up another level once Tuvan singing master Kongar-ol Ondar joins the show and guides his friend Pena through his astonishing performances at the National Theatre. Looking and acting like a cross between Genghis Khan and Jackie Chan, Ondar is the livewire whose overjoyed acceptance of Pena gives this such a winning heart. Like the best documentaries with a musical theme, Genghis Blues is about the power of sound to break barriers and create understanding. It may sound corny but it's not as realised in this celebration by first-time directors Roko and Adrian Belic. They've created a gem which even the most cynical viewers might find leads to misting of the eyes. A total delight."
Richard Kuipers

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

GENGHIS BLUES (M)
(US)

Documentary

CAST: Kongar-ol Ondar, Paul Pena
PRODUCERS: Roko & Adrian Belic

DIRECTOR: Roko Belic

SCRIPT: Roko Belic

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roko & Adrian Belic

EDITOR: Roko Belic

MUSIC: Kongar-ol Ondar, Paul Pena

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Ronin Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 30, 2000 (Sydney)







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