It has been labelled as the burgeoning movie industry in Ghana and has been described by award-winning filmmaker Shirley Frimpong-Manso as a great initiative despite impressions by many film critics that most Kumawood movies are substandard.

Ghana’s culturally dignified city of Kumasi is the home of the Akan movie industry known as Kumawood. Though “Kumawood” is a registered brand of Samdackus Initiatives’ award ceremony - , it has been used as an industry name for movies from Kumasi.

Over the years, some entertainment pundits and the general public have raised concerns about Kumawood movie producers using trending events, personalities and song titles as movie titles. I am sure you have heard movie titles like: Osama Bin Laden, Tonga, Yentie Obiaa, Sir John, Castro Amanehunu, Oh Vera, Ayari Cough, Maricruz, Menam Na Metete, Obinim Schwaznager, among others. Perhaps, you are surprised that till now movies like “Dumsor”, “Useless Questions”, “Shatta Wale”, “KKD”, “Ms. Ada”, etc. have not been produced and released onto the market.

While some argue that the act is a case of creativity and smartness, others view it as a mere act of laziness and ineptitude.

Well, as a student of Theatre, I seek to bring to bear how right or wrong this act is decorously.

First of all, the practice does not defile any principle in theatre. As a writer, I decide the title of my work. The title is my artistic license. That is, I am accorded the freedom and flexibility in my interpretation of something, and not held strictly accountable for accuracy.

Have you asked yourself why bloggers and newspaper publishers give their stories certain headlines? You read a title of an article, and you conclude it was a physical assault? Just as some bloggers would want traffic on their websites, so are movie producers willing to pull people to watch their movies. It is worth noting that, film making is a subsidiary of the media in Ghana.

It is true that sometimes you get disappointed after watching a certain movie if your expectations are not met. But what else can you do? The only thing you can do is to decline watching any movie from that production house again. However, it is not always the case that a title of a movie should have a direct correlation with the content.

Let me ask this question: why do we hit hard on the producers and yet continue to buy movies with such titles? Do you think they would continue producing if people were not buying? If as a society we find anything wrong with the practice, then we should register our displeasure by not patronizing such movies. Once we continue to buy, the practice will continue.

My bane is, most often than not, such movies are shabbily produced as producers are in a haste to release them for the market. These movies are rushed and as a result have contributed to the incessant calls by many, condemning Kumawood movies. That is why I couldn’t have agreed more with movie director Fiifi Gharbin, when he made a comment in 2011 that, “The most interesting thing is sometimes you watch some of the movies with a controversial title and you will find nothing closer to the title chosen. The only thing they look at before choosing the title is the marketing aspect and not the content, and this is very bad.”

One other aspect that gets pundits and a section of the public talking is when producers use sensitive trending issues as movie titles. It could be recalled that after Ghanaian musician Castro got missing, Odame Films shot a movie titled, which received backlashes on the basis of it playing on the sensitivity of Ghanaians and Castro’s family. The producer retorted that the musician is not the only Castro in the world so the movie was not in any way making reference to him. He was right; however, if the producer were a family member, would he have used that title?

Before I conclude, let me ask our producers:

  • What is your motivation for making movies?
  • What lessons can people learn from your productions?
  • What do you consider before choosing a title for your movie?
  • Must you always rely on these gimmicks to pull people to watch your movie?
  • Have you at a point thought about the brand you are building for yourself?
  • Do your works bring out the creative ability in you?

It is an undeniable fact that Kumawood movies played a pivotal role in keeping the movie market going at a tough moment when the Ghanaian movie market was almost extinct. This is the more reason why stakeholders have keen interest in its sustainability. Let’s not settle for less. It is always better to produce quality movies than churning out more movies that are substandard.