Interview with The Pearl of Africa Filmmaker Jonny von Wallström, Part V – Conclusion
Q: Since President Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, does this affect your plans at all?
Jonny: It makes it much more dangerous to make this film. Both for Cleo and me. But it does give me an even stronger reason to make the film. It will definitely affect the story, but since the future hasn’t been written yet we’ll have to wait for the movie to find out how it changed.
Q: What Cleo’s plans are at this point?
Jonny: Cleo wants to have her surgery as fast as she can to become a woman on paper; she’s also considering leaving Uganda, which is something that could change the film in many ways.
Q: Do you plan to follow Cleo’s recovery and the changes that surgery makes in her life back in Uganda?
Jonny: I will be there during her recovery and after. The story of her return to Uganda and what happens then will be very interesting to see. Will she be accepted as a woman or will things stay the same? Nobody knows because she’s the first woman transitioning openly in Uganda.
Q: What do you wish to convey with The Pearl of Africa?
Jonny: For me The Pearl of Africa is about acceptance, it’s crazy that we still have such a hard time accepting differences in people. For me as Swedish I think it’s important to make a story about a black trans person to highlight both the gender and race discussion, which is important all over the world. In a Swedish context we only discuss gender from a female/male perspective and we have a racist party that gets around 10% votes in parliament so the film has much value here. For Ugandans and East Africans I think the film can de-mystify trans people and hopefully change people’s perceptions of gays at the same time. Many Ugandans may have an easier time accepting trans people before gays, which I hope will be a first step forward. It will give them a chance to see a human behind the label.
It is my mission to change people’s hearts and minds about LGBTI people through documentary storytelling.