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The Pearl of Africa is an inspiring documentary movie about a transgender woman from Uganda, following her daily life as well as documenting her gender transition. It also needs to be mentioned that the movie really has two main characters: Cleo and her partner, who is always by her side, making the story even more touching.
In comparison to other transgender-related documentaries, The Pearl of Africa seems smaller, as unlike many other such pictures, it doesn't try to tackle any big issues or even present a community. This is not a fault, but a nice change, as instead of yet another movie about the larger LGBT community, we get an intimate portrait of one remarkable woman. Some broader context is presented in clips from news programs, depicting the political situation in Uganda, but it only serves the purpose of stressing how brave Cleo is for being true to herself.
The pacing of the movie is quite slow, which many long scenes in which Cleo and Nelson talk to each other or do some mundane things. For people used to the fast pace of current blockbusters this may be a problem, but I found it perfect for the story the movie tells, as it gives us the opportunity to really focus on the couple. All in all, the picture may not be the best transgender-related documentary ever made, but it is definitely worth watching.
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