GENGHIS BLUES – 20th Anniversary (35mm)

Roko & Adrian Belic’s hugely influential, Oscar®-nominated documentary about blind bluesman Paul Pena, throat-singing sensation Kongar-ol Ondar & a ragtag crew who journey to the isolated Russian province of Tuva.

Roko and Adrian Belic & friends IN PERSON!

“Has to be seen – and heard – to be believed. An amazing cultural, spiritual and physical adventure.” – Andrew Sarris
“Wonderful! Thumbs Up!” — Roger Ebert

Paul Pena (1950–2005) was a blind San Francisco blues musician and songwriter who played with the greats; T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, and Bonnie Raitt. He wrote the Steve Miller hit song “Jet Airliner”. In 1995, he became the first American ever to compete in an unusual contest of multi-harmonic “throatsinging.”

The Republic of Tuva, wedged between Siberia and Mongolia, for centuries had been isolated from the rest of the world by jagged mountains and Soviet restrictions. At the time, outsiders were unaware that the Tuvan art form of throatsinging even existed.

Paul first heard it on Radio Moscow on his shortwave radio, then spent years figuring out how to do it, and then incorporated it into his own music. He also taught himself the Tuvan language, despite very few resources available. The opportunity to demonstrate his mastery in front of throatsinging champion Kongar-ol Ondar (1962 – 2013) happened by chance, when Ondar was on tour in San Francisco. That led to an invitation to compete in Tuva.

Roko Belic and his brother Adrian joyously jumped into documenting the entire, wacky adventure, and led a motley crew who banded together to make sure Paul made it to the other side of the world and back — it was a moon shot of sorts. When it opened in movie theaters, their documentary feature film Genghis Blues captured the imagination of audiences, film critics, and recording stars alike. Their film details the trials and tribulations of the trip, celebrates cross-continental friendships, and shows how Paul earned the admiration of the Tuvan people by embracing their culture.

Today, 20 years after the film won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, this musically-saturated, planet-scampering San Francisco story is recognized as a heartfelt masterpiece, and a major influence in bringing the art form of throatsinging into the American consciousness.

“Delivers some deeply felt lessons about cultural values, personal affinities, and how deeply race and disability warp human destiny in the United States”
– B. Ruby Rich, S.F. BAY GUARDIAN.

“An enchanting documentary on a magnificent obsession. A more improbable and endearing yarn can’t be imagined.” -Kenneth Turan, LA TIMES

“An extraordinary guitarist, and a great singer … a bit like Hendrix. [Paul Pena] was hellacious on guitar.” -Bonnie Raitt

“Genghis Blues is a seminal music documentary that is simultaneously fantastical and raw, uniquely capturing the undaunted passion and devotion of a true musician who is willing to follow his dream to the end of the earth.”
– Grammy winner Lili Haydn

Written, directed & edited by Roko Belic. Produced and Shot by Roko and Adrian Belic. Sound Recorded by Lemon DeGeorge. Original Concept for “GENGHIS BLUES” & Executive Producer: Ralph Leighton. 35mm. 1.85:1. Dolby SR. U.S.A. 1999. 88 mins.

Also Showing Wednesday, July 10 at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center!

Roxie Theater trailers play during the 30 minutes prior to showtime.


GENGHIS BLUES - 20th Anniversary (35mm): Upcoming Showtimes