January Marie Lapuz, right, with friend Alex Sangha, in an undated photo. Sangha has produced an award-winning documentary film about his friend, who was killed in 2012. (Submitted photo)

Doc about Surrey-raised murder victim wins national film award

‘My Name Was January’ movie wins in ‘Documentary Short Competition’ at 2019 Canada International Film Festival

A documentary that eulogizes the life of a Surrey-raised trans woman who was murdered has won yet another award.

“My Name Was January” was named a “Royal Reel Winner” in the Documentary Short Competition at the 2019 Canada International Film Festival on March 14, held at Edgewater Casino in Downtown Vancouver.

The 25-minute movie is about January Marie Lapuz, who was stabbed to death at her home in New Westminster in September of 2012. She was 26.

The doc has so far garnered 10 awards, in addition to being named a finalist eight times, semi-finalist three times, and it has appeared at 31 film festivals around the world.

It was also picked as the “Best LGBTQ Film” at the Los Angeles Film Awards.

READ MORE: Surrey-raised murder victim remembered in new documentary film

Official Trailer – My Name Was January from January on Vimeo.

Alex Sangha, who produced the short documentary, said the project was created to pay tribute to his departed friend and ally at the Sher Vancouver, a non-profit society for LGBTQ South Asians and supporters.

The film is directed by local journalists Elina Gress and Lenee Son, and produced by Sher Vancouver.

“When a trans sister, January Marie Lapuz, is brutally murdered in her own home, a community reacts and her friends and other trans women of colour come to share and voice their issues, concerns, and challenges,” reads the film synopsis.

“January was seen as a bright light in the lives of many. This is a story of January, a friend, a daughter, a person. This film will not only bring justice to January, but to all women who have lost their lives. January had a beautiful soul, and now part of her soul rests in each and every one of us.”

Lapuz’s killer pleaded guilty to manslaughter and in 2014 was sentenced to eight years in prison.

RELATED STORY: Surrey residents make it big in January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award, from January 2018.

There are two screenings of the documentary planned in Surrey this September, both at City Centre Library. First, on Sept. 21 then again on Sept. 28, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Free tickets will be available on eventbrite.com, organizers say, with capacity for each screening set at 80.

To learn more about the documentary, and the awards it had received, visit januarylapuz.net/film-festival-awards.

-With files from Tom Zillich

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