The Pearl of Africa
The Pearl of Africa is a documentary film directed by Johnny von Wallstroem, focusing on the life of Cleopatra Kambugu, a Ugandan born woman who decide to live openly as a trans woman despite hostility towards same-sex relations in the country.
Overview and Synopsis
In 2014, when the protagonist and her lover decide to settle down quietly, Uganda passed a homophobic law; later in the year, a Ugandan tabloid, Red Pepper outed Kambugu which eventually forced the lovers to flee Uganda. In Sweden, director Johnny von Wallstroem was producing a film about a gay Ugandan refugee. However, the protagonist of the film had cold feet when he feared that his family in Uganda could be harmed. Wallstroem then traveled to Uganda to research stories about LGBT individuals who were committed to express themselves publicly. He was introduced to Kambugu who initially hesitated but decided to publicly express herself and her sexuality in front of a camera. Both individuals initially collaborated on a 7 part web series, The Pearl of Africa which led to the process of producing a documentary.
The documentary tells the story of Kambugu, who was born male but transitioned into the woman she always wanted to be despite the hostility and trans-phobia in her country. It also covers the relationship between Kambugu, who is a trans activist and her lover Nelson, a straight man and their struggles and love for one another.
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- La Rose, Lauren (July 14, 2016). "Transgender Women Find A Voice; Heart-wrenching docs humanize and universalize their stories". Barrie Examiner.
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