- Donald Glover premiered the film at Coachella 2019 after a Childish Gambino set.
- The film stars Glover, Rihanna, Letitia Wright, and Nonso Anozie.
- “Guava Island” is filled with Childish Gambino music – but features no music from Rihanna.
- Costume design took inspiration from the African diaspora for this fictional island, according to film stylist Mobolaji Dawodu.
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Following his set at Coachella, Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, released a new film called “Guava Island” this weekend on Amazon Prime. He also screened the film at the festival.
Already gaining praise for its soundtrack and cinematography, here’s everything you need to know before you watch.
The film stars Donald Glover and Rihanna
Billed as “A Childish Gambino Production” as the opening credits begin to roll, the film centers on Deni Maroon, a local musician on the fictional Guava Island, as played by Glover. Deni and Kofi – played by Rihanna – were childhood sweethearts, who are now adults living on a beautiful tropical island that seems at first glance like a paradise – but in reality, is something darker.
‘Guava Island’ also stars Letitia Wright and Nonso Anozie
Wright makes a brief appearance on the silk factory sewing floor, as one of Kofi’s coworkers and friends.
Anozie – better known to “Game of Thrones” fans as Xaro Xhoan Daxos – plays the ruthless and dictatorial island overlord Red Cargo, under whose thumb the regular working islanders struggle just to go about their daily lives.
It’s from the creative team behind ‘Atlanta’
Stephen Glover – brother to Donald – wrote the screenplay, while director Hiro Murai should be well-known to anyone who is a fan of either “Atlanta” or any of Childish Gambino’s music videos including the Grammy award-winning “This Is America.”
Although he’s done plenty of TV and music video work, this is Murai’s feature film directorial debut.
Donald is given a writing credit as are Ibra Ake, Jamal Olori, and Fam Udeorji, who all had a hand in “Atlanta” as either writers or in the music department.
‘Guava Island’ features several Childish Gambino songs – including some that are unreleased
There’s even a re-imagined version of “This Is America” staged on a factory floor in a slightly surreal and important scene.
Another unforgettable and picture-perfect moment that almost feels like it belongs in a rom-com happens when Deni serenades Kofi with “Summertime Magic” on a beach.
This scene – both sweet and slightly unsettling, just like the rest of the film – is part of why the Ringer described the movie as “a rom-com about the ravages of capitalism.”
Notably, Rihanna does not sing in the film.
Although Guava Island is a fictional place, the film was shot entirely in Cuba and features costume design that reflects the African diaspora
Film stylist and GQ fashion director Mobolaji Dawodu spoke to Vogue about the unifying theme behind the costume design, and said,
“The main thing is that it was an all-black world. You can pick up references to a lot of things, but it didn’t have to be specific to a country or a region.
Obviously Africa was an anchor, but we took a lot of elements of black style from different places and put it together.”
Executive producer and frequent Glover collaborator Ibra Ake provided Vogue with many behind-the-scenes photos as well.
The film starts with an animated creation myth that tells viewers how Guava Island was formed – with a voiceover by Rihanna
Our introduction to this world begins as though in a dream, with a deceptively simple yet arresting animated sequence that sets the tone for the action to come.
After about five minutes or so, it transitions to the live-action film to tell the modern-day story of Deni and Kofi and daily life in this not-quite paradise.
The film currently holds an 86% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.