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Family of Vanessa Guillen pleased with documentary, but says work is far from over

A documentary film on the life, death and legacy of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, a soldier at Fort Hood, has made the top ten movies list on Netflix.

TEXAS, USA — A new documentary film on the life, death and legacy of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, a soldier at Fort Hood, has made the top ten movies list on Netflix after it debuted Nov. 17.

“I Am Vanessa Guillen” highlights the family's fight for justice, reform and also how officials at Fort Hood handled Guillen's disappearance and murder.

Mayra Guillen, Vanessa's sister, has played a large role in bringing about reform for silenced victims and injustices in the military after her sister's death. She has watched the film several different times and is pleased with the final product.

"It was at first more with a critical eye; just trying to see what they came up with in the end and making sure that it was what we had agreed," she explained how she felt about it the first time she watched the film. "The second time around, it was definitely much more emotional."

She said they chose the right crew to do the film with and it was everything the family was anticipating. Mayra is happy the story is on a platform like Netflix for the outreach it could have. 

"Of course we'd give anything to have her back," she added. "I'm just glad that the world now knows in a sense. It kind of brings it back to what happened because I know a lot of things were left unsaid when it was national news at some point. So, hopefully it brings up the awareness and it shines a light that we need once again to get this done."

The documentary shines a light on the loud voices and work that has been done over the last two and a half years since Vanessa's disappearance. From demanding answers from Fort Hood officials on post, to making sure Vanessa gets justice in the courtroom.

The film also walks through the work Mayra, along with her family members and attorney Natalie Khawam, have done at Capitol Hill. 

They were able to urge Congress to pass parts of "I Am Vanessa Guillen Act," which is in the National Defense Authorization Act. It allows victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military to allow them to report incidents outside of their chain-of-command. Mayra said they are still fighting for the rest as the military still needs changes to help all soldiers.

"I just hope that people know that we're still actively working, we will still continue to work until we're 100 percent done," she said.

Mayra wants people to feel inspired by the documentary and continue the fight to keep Vanessa's legacy alive and for military reform.

"If people can come together, great things can happen," she said. "I want other families to get inspired and not be scared for what they could be able to do. People just don't know until they have to go through it or act on it."

Just like she and her family are doing for their Vanessa.

"She would definitely be super proud to see that we didn't take no for an answer that we didn't let depression take over," Mayra said.

Mayra said the family is focused on Cecily Aguilar's trial as they wait for justice and continuing to fight for victims in the military through legislation.

She also tells 6 News she has a meeting with someone at the Pentagon soon, although she wasn't specific about what that would cover.

“I Am Vanessa Guillen” directed and produced by Christy Wegener, is now available on Netflix.

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