Blood, Sweat and Tearful Music

Ethnomusicological & Ethnographic film
by Petr Nuska

[Currently in Pre-production]


So your music career didn’t work out? You spent your youth struggling with notes on a page, churning out scales, pouring over theory books. But can’t even string together your favourite song these days? Musical talent is obviously just for the chosen few, and you are simply not among them. But in a little Slovak town called Klenovec, each Romani boy is expected to take up the musical craft of his father. For countless generations, music has been the work and calling for the men of this community. These virtuosic instrumentalists don’t learn their craft from the pages of a book – as people outside the community say, music simply “runs in their blood.” “Blood, Sweat and Tearful Music” is a multinarrative documentary that follows Vladimir, Janko, Zolo, David and fellow musicians from the festival stage to the busker’s pitch, from the hotel lounge gig to the music school. But beyond their performances, these musicians give us unique access to the toil they keep strictly hidden from their public – the drudgery, conflict and farce belying the myth that the music is all in their genes. They bleed and sweat, we cry and dance with them, and plunge into all that lies behind their apparently effortless musical abilities.


The film is a multidimensional immersion into different musical soundscapes of Klenovec. Five chapters embed us in the experiences of this rich musical world’s most engaging characters. We are swept away by their music, from sensitive halgato laments and riveting czardas dances to banging rock jams. Each chapter sings a central refrain: one of the radical contrast in how Romani musical performance appears, and the realities backstage. Documentary portrait, road movie, and the collaborative making of a music video illuminate this contrast from all angles. The chapters are dramaturgically connected by the irresistible tones of Romani songs, binding the protagonists and local soundscape together. Chapters build from solid dramaturgical logic and are unified by an unmistakable filmmaking style.


The film is now in its late development stage. The first stage of filming is scheduled on early Autumn 2021. The project is realised under the umbrella of Eyes on music: Projects on visual ethnomusicology run by Fondazione Giorgio Cini and was awarded Annual Diego Carpitella Scholarship for production development. The film research was funded by Leverhulme Trust. Find more information about the research project on a dedicated website.

Petr Nuska

PhD research and documentary by Petr Nuska: Rooted Musicians from Klenovec

Petr Nuska is a visual ethnomusicologist and ethnographic filmmaker, currently based at the Durham University, UK. Since 2011, he has been involved in many projects around the world in the field of documentary and ethnographic film, educational and activist videos, and music clips for independent musicians. Films in which he participated have been screened at various international film festivals. His contemporary research involves Romani musicians in central Slovakia and examines transmission of musical skills in this context.