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Nollywood Moment: How a North Texan Launched a Platform for African Films

Freda Frimpong's Kuumba Media is partnering with local Alamo Drafthouse locations for a monthly screening series among other projects.
Kuumba Media

African filmmakers are creating more quality movies with relevant themes and international appeal than ever before. Finding an audience is the issue, and that’s where Freda Frimpong hopes to help.

The native of Ghana, who grew up in North Texas, started Kuumba Media as a distribution vessel for African films to gain exposure in the United States through festivals, video-on-demand, and specialized theatrical screenings.

As part of that effort, the Brooklyn digital media tech company is teaming up with local Alamo Drafthouse for a monthly series that includes the Nigerian drama Oga Bolaji. The film will screen on Saturday at Alamo Drafthouse Denton and on Aug. 31 at Alamo Drafthouse Cedars.

“There’s so much film being produced in Africa,” Frimpong said. “We’re just trying to figure out an interesting way to get it out there.”

Kuumba has partnered regionally with the Denton Black Film Festival and the Dallas-based African Film Festival, which showed Oga Bolaji during its June event. The film from 26-year-old director Kayode Kasum — about an unlikely partnership between a middle-aged musician and a young girl — also has screened at more than a dozen other festivals.

Frimpong, 30, graduated from Trinity High School in Euless before earning a theater degree from the University of North Texas. She moved to New York after graduation to pursue acting, but transitioned into behind-the-scenes roles in entertainment instead. After finishing her MBA, she launched Kuumba, translated from the word “creativity” in Swahili.

The local screenings will precede the release of Oga Bolaji on Kuumba’s on-demand platform, which is scheduled to debut this fall. Previously, Kuumba screened the Ghanaian comedy Bad Luck Joe at the same two Alamo locations in July.

“I really want to focus on bringing the value of African cinema to a global platform,” Frimpong said, “and give them a voice.”