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.