Ghengis Blues

Most of the coolest stuff that happens in my life are things I’ve stumbled on by accident. I was adding some new movies to our Netflix queue, and was clicking links, our recommended, other recommended, etc. and happened upon a film called Genghis Blues

genghis_blues.jpg It’s a documentary about Paul Pena (on the left in the photo), a blind blues musician who taught himself to speak Tuvan, and to perform Tuvan throatsinging. It arrived today, and we escaped from our office for a couple of hours to watch it. SO SO glad we did that. It was amazing. The film had won tons of awards, but other than that I had no idea what to expect.

I hadn’t ever heard of Tuvan throatsinging before tonight, but Jared had (thanks to a feature from Minnesota Public Radio a couple of years ago). The singer actually sings multiple harmonizing notes at the same time. It’s something like a human bagpipe, and sounds kind of like a high didgeridoo. Here’s a YouTube video of a man (unrelated to the film) performing in Berkeley in February of this year. It’s incredible. So haunting.

The film itself is about Paul’s journey to Tuva, his performance of their native singing style, and his experiences there. Amazing. Totally one of those films (like so much cool stuff in my life) that I stumbled on by accident, but I’ll be grateful for the rest of my life that I watched it. Partly it’s because Paul is so human and so real, and yet a figure of such tragedy. One of those real artists that is born with an incredible amount of talent, and also huge obstacles to overcome (blindness, depression, diabetes - he died from complications of both diabetes and pancreatic disease). He sings a song in the middle of the film that he wrote there during one sad experience, about his experience in Tuva that is amazing and earthy (love me some scratchy blues) and heartbreaking and I hope I can find it again.

The other outstanding person in the film is Paul’s Tuvan host, and guide, and friend - Kongar-ol Ondar, who travels the world singing and performing, and is a person of immense spiritual power. And he has a smile about six miles wide (he’s on the right in that photo above), which just makes him so charming. I loved this movie. And I rarely, rarely get to say that.

I’m still so caught up in this that I’m trying to even remember the rest of the day. Eh. I can’t. I’ve been to Tuva tonight, though. A place I never even knew existed before 8 p.m. :) 

Photoshop Friday is tomorrow! Stay tuned! :D