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Turlock filmmaker unveils debut project
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Bavlina Youri (right) and Alexandra Renzo (left) are two of the founders of the production company Monarch Moon Films, which held a private screening Thursday night in Turlock for Youris film I Meant To Tell You. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR/The Journal

An idea that began percolating two years ago for Turlock native Bavlina Youri came down to 20 minutes when she unveiled her short film “I Meant To Tell You” in front of a hometown crowd.

The private screening at Regal Cinemas in Turlock marked the directorial and screenwriting debut for Youri, who also was the lead actress in the short movie.

“I’m both nervous and excited,” Youri said as the crowd of family, friends, and those connected to the film project awaited the opening. “Mostly nervous, because this will be the first time that people will see and hear this vision I had so long ago.”

Youri, along with two other partners, formed the production company Monarch Moon Films. The three women have a vision of making films for and about women and the issues that come close to their heart. In that respect, “I Meant To Tell You” hit the mark. Without giving away the entire plot, it is a film that finds a couple facing a fear they never expected. Alexandra Renzo, one of the partners in Monarch Moon Films said some of the life experiences she and Youri shared recently made the project feel especially personal.

The project was filmed exclusively in Turlock in November 2015, and while most of it is interior locations, there are some recognizable spots, including the Fields of Ice skating rink.

“I love Turlock. It’s beautiful,” Youri said. “So I thought ‘why not shoot here.’”

Turlock is not just the backdrop of the film. It’s also the home of almost the entire cast and crew, including lead actor Emmanuel Beniamine.

“Bavlina let me read the script and I really liked the story she was telling and the heart of it,” said Beniamine.

This project marks Beniamine’s 12th short film and he is preparing to move to Los Angeles, where he hopes to sell a script for a television show he has been developing.

Youri said they plan to submit the movie to the different film festivals and proceed from there. A project well received at a film festival can develop into a feature length film or lead to additional projects for the production company.

“Hopefully we can get into whatever festivals we can and get some recognition for everyone that worked on it,” Youri said. “it wouldn’t have been possible without all their hard work.”