Wel­come to Guava Is­land

Don­ald Glover’s “se­cret” film is here


Re­mem­ber when it was an­nounced that Don­ald Glover and Ri­hanna were star­ring in a “se­cret” movie? That was about a year ago, be­fore Don­ald’s This is Amer­ica shook the world, and then little else was heard about it.

At last month’s Coachella mu­sic fest in the US the movie, Guava Is­land, was un­veiled, and re­leased si­mul­ta­ne­ously on Ama­zon Prime Video.

Billed as a “trop­i­cal thriller”, it fol­lows Deni Ma­roon (Don­ald) and Kofi Novia (RiRi) on a quest to throw a fes­ti­val for the in­hab­i­tants of a fic­tional is­land un­der the rule of the despotic Red Cargo (Nonso Anozie). The cast also in­cludes Leti­tia Wright of Black Panther fame.

Writ­ten by Don­ald’s brother, Stephen, who drew in­spi­ra­tion from the ac­claimed Brazil­ian crime drama City of God and Prince’s Pur­ple Rain.

“We just bounced some ideas based off a first idea that Don­ald had for a movie that kind of felt like City of God in this trop­i­cal set­ting,” Stephen told Rolling Stone.

“We talked about it and went over the story that could tie into black roy­alty. Something that felt like all these cool, black gen­res that are in­ter­est­ing to us.”

The char­ac­ter of Deni was based on his brother but when he was writ­ing it, he didn’t know who would play Kofi. “We had some peo­ple in mind that we wanted. For­tu­nately, we were able to get Ri­hanna. So it was good. There were some things that were tweaked af­ter­wards but, for the most part, it wasn’t writ­ten specif­i­cally.”

The movie was filmed on lo­ca­tion in Cuba, which helped the pro­duc­tion main­tain its shroud of se­crecy.

“We wanted to as­sure that we had as much cre­ative free­dom as possible,” pro­ducer Car­men Cuba told Rolling Stone.

“Ev­ery­thing about this pro­ject and Don­ald in gen­eral, in terms of his in­ten­tions for his life and his ca­reer, is to protect his free­dom – free­dom of ex­pres­sion and free­dom of process.”

The few leaks there were “helped build the bread­crumbs of the mys­tery. And look­ing back, it all worked in our favour. The news cy­cle is so fast, the in­ter­est cy­cle is so fast, that main­tain­ing in­ter­est in something for so long is a hard thing to do,” Cuba said.

“There is still a lot of stuff that fans don’t know that they will be sur­prised about and hope­fully happy about.”

The flick also stars Ri­hanna as Don­ald’s on­screen flame. RiRi says she hopes view­ers feel “the beauty in the film”.

Don­ald Glover aka Child­ish Gam­bino wrote and pro­duced the thriller Guava Is­land with his brother, Stephen.

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