It’s Official: Buddy-Comedy ‘Carmen and Bolude’ Receives Development Funding

“Best friends Carmen and Bolude travel from Harlem, NYC to Sydney, Australia, where they have ten days to collect 100 ‘welcomes’ so that Bolude’s traditional Nigerian father will agree to let her marry an Australian.”

‘Carmen & Bolude’ is not only relevant to the current public discourse on identity politics, it is also a hilariously entertaining story that showcases the unique gifts of multicultural Australia.

This might not be a biography, but it is most certainly based on true events. No doubt it was the authentic reflection of friendship and adventure that stole the hearts of Screen Australia’s decision-makers.

What makes the project even more powerful and compelling is the fact that the story is centered around how racial and cultural identity is affected by context, questions which the all-female, multicultural creative team has had to grapple with throughout their lives. The film will star Nigerian-Australian Bolude Watson and Latin American-Australian Michela Carattini, will be directed by Penelope Berkemeier and produced by Yolandi Franken and Michela Carattini.

“We’re excited because we know of no feature film which similarly represents mixed-race experiences, despite people with multiracial backgrounds making up a significant portion of the world’s population. To our knowledge, neither have the African female or Latina experiences been represented in an Australian feature,” says Carattini.

The film is fresh and funny, as it follows the two protagonists who, in the course of the film, learn to successfully integrate multiple cultural and race identities within themselves, their relationships and their intergenerational and international communities.

The screenplay for Carmen & Bolude was born when friends Carattini and Watson, an AACTA Award candidate and nominee respectively, teamed up to write their story which, shortly after, won the Mango Tree Story/Hubscript Live Read Session. Now having received Generate Development Funding from Screen Australia for the 2020/2021 round, the film is expected to go into production next year.

Not since ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ has there been a film which normalises close, contemporary relationships (“sisterhood”) between women of different races on equal footing, and not since ‘Crocodile Dundee’ has there been a film that geographically plays into the highly influential cultural relationship between America and Australia – but this time the experience is turned on its head through the perspectives of multicultural women. The film is fresh and funny, as it follows the two strong female protagonists who, in the course of the film, learn to successfully integrate multiple cultural and race identities within themselves, their relationships and their intergenerational and international communities.

While likely being Australia’s first film to incorporate Nollywood (Nigerian Hollywood) story concepts, this film does not whitewash the BIPOC experience, rather it integrates realism and empathy with comedy and adventure. The film responds to the current racially charged environment with the accessibility of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ and ‘The Bird Cage’. Furthermore, the film reflects Australia as it truly is, one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world, by way of a unique, story-driven tour of Sydney’s unseen geographies and ethnicities.

“The story of ‘Carmen & Bolude’, as well as the project itself, brings together all cultures and all races into one umbrella of humanity. It sets an example of equality and unity among us ALL. It is a story about what COULD and SHOULD happen in the middle, where all cultures come together,” says Franken.

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