The Pearl of Africa

Jonny von Wallström, 74 min, Sweden.

Anti-gay legislation was passed in Uganda in 2014, and LGBTQ people now face life imprisonment or even execution. In mass demonstrations, citizens made their opposition to sexual and gender diversity known. Winston Churchill referred to Uganda as “the pearl of Africa” because of its stunning diversity, but it’s a very dangerous place for Cleopatra Kambugu, who was born a man but is on her way to becoming a woman. With support from some of her family and her boyfriend Nelson, she undertakes the physically and emotionally drastic transformation to a different body. Filmmaker Jonny von Wallström follows the cheerful, courageous Cleo and her dedicated partner on their journey, revealing both the couple’s exceptional relationship and their inner struggles. This is intercut with several troubling news segments concerning the introduction of the anti-gay legislation, as well as menacing animations and fiction film-style segments with romantic music that underline the beauty of our protagonists' love.