Film shares story of trans immigrant woman

Documentary produced by RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Alex Sangha, My Name Was January, is winning big

From social worker to activist to RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant, Alex Sangha can now add award-winning film producer to his resumé.

As founder of Sher Vancouver LGBTQ Friends Society, Sangha, along with Sher president Ash Brar, produced an important film about diversity, tolerance and love called My Name Was January.

The 25-minute documentary is about January Marie Lapuz, a transgender immigrant woman, who was brutally murdered in her own home in New Westminster, B.C. Born in the Philippines, Lapuz was also the social co-ordinator for Sher Vancouver.

The film documents how the community reacted to her death, and how her friends and other trans women of colour have come to share and voice their issues, concerns and challenges.

“The plot of the story touches on immigration issues as well,” says Sangha, “as when her mother, Betty Lapuz, speaks about the challenges of transporting January’s body back to the Philippines for burial.”

On the film festival circuit

Since the movie’s release in September, the film has been accepted into 11 film festivals and has received many accolades. It was recognized with the Award of Recognition – LGBT, Best Shorts Competition, La Jolla, California; Best Documentary Short Film, Aphrodite Film Awards, New York City; Best LGBTQ Film, Los Angeles Film Awards; and Best Documentary – Gold Award, Los Angeles Shorts Awards.

“Furthermore, the film was selected as a semi-finalist at the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival in Los Angeles. We will find out on January 26, 2019, if we are an award winner at this festival,” says Sangha.

“I feel January is watching over us like our angel in heaven. I feel she is blessing the film and helping us spread her message of love and light.”

The exclusive Canadian rights of the film for the educational market has also been acquired by Moving Images Distribution, which is a local non-profit social justice distributor in Vancouver. A discussion guide for teachers has been prepared to go with the film. The film will be formally released for sale to high schools, colleges and universities in January 2019.