‘Guava Island’ First Look: Childish Gambino’s Mystery Project With Rihanna Is Unveiled

When Donald Glover and the director Hiro Murai collaborate on a new project, expectations are naturally sky high.

After all, Murai has directed many of the key episodes of Glover’s Emmy-winning series, “Atlanta,” as well as the music video for “This Is America,” the Grammy-winning song Glover recorded as his musical alter ego, Childish Gambino.

But with their first feature-length effort, “Guava Island,” you had the sense that Glover and Murai were trying to play down those expectations. The film, which comes in at a brisk 54 minutes, was shot in Cuba last year and kept under wraps until this week. That isn’t easy to do when your star is so famous and his love interest is played by Rihanna.

And though any film festival in the world would have coveted Murai’s first feature, “Guava Island” instead debuted Thursday night at the Coachella campgrounds in California, where Glover will headline the site’s music festival as Childish Gambino. Shortly after his set concludes on Friday night, the film is to begin streaming on Amazon, starting Saturday at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

the video’s familiar, unsettling dance moves. Other musical sequences are set to Childish Gambino songs like “Saturday” and “Summertime Magic,” which is repurposed as a beachside serenade for Rihanna. (Alas, she is a mere spectator instead of Glover’s duet partner.)

Glover has said that “Guava Island” was inspired by films as disparate as “Purple Rain” and “City of God,” though it also shares a restless creative ambition with recent visual albums from Janelle Monáe and Beyoncé. Monáe will perform just before Glover on the Coachella stage Friday night, while Beyoncé dominated the festival last year with a career-spanning performance captured for her coming Netflix documentary “Homecoming.”

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