Interview with Filmmaker Alex Sangha (MY NAME WAS JANUARY)

MY NAME WAS JANUARY played to rave reviews at the February 2020 FEMALE Feedback Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Alex Sangha: The social coordinator of the non-profit that I founded for LGBTQ South Asians and their friends was brutally stabbed 18 times in her own home. She was a transgender Filipina woman. She was a much loved member of our organization and we wanted to create a tribute for her to showcase her light, legacy, and love in the minds of people she left behind. We wanted to share her story as we knew her and what she meant to us and to provide a platform for other transgender woman of colour.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Three years. We hired two journalism students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey BC Canada. Elina Gress and Lenee Son were both women of colour and this was their first film.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Authentic and real

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

It was difficult to obtain funding at first because this was our first film and we did not have a track record.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Feeling a bit nervous and anxious. I was pleased with the feedback overall. I am confident in the end product. My Name Was January has won 14 international awards, and garnered 59 official selections at film festivals around the world. It also landed three distribution deals through Moving Images Distribution of Vancouver, OUTtv and OUTtvGo in Canada, and Revry of California, which is a queer streaming platform. The reception to the film has been positive overall and it has also sparked critical discussion and debate on various issues such as the sex trade, transgender rights, human rights, and violence.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

We wanted to eulogize and create a memorial or tribute to our dear departed friend, January Marie Lapuz

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I am a big fan of the entire Star Wars series. I feel Star Wars has a theme of good vs. evil and the light being a force for good and defeating darkness. I feel society as a whole deal with this similar battle at an individual and even broader societal level.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I really love Film Freeway but I wish it was cheaper to submit films. Cost can be a barrier to get your films to film festivals.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

I am a big fan of I dreamed a dream which is on the Les Miserables soundtrack.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Emergence: Out of the Shadows which is about the coming out journey of gay and lesbian South Asians and the reactions of their parents. For more details check out https://emergencefilm.net/

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