“Guava Island,” a new 55-minute film starring Donald Glover and Rihanna, was released as a limited-time free stream on Amazon overnight Saturday, during Glover’s headlining set as Childish Gambino at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
The mysterious project, which has been teased for months, features Glover as Deni, a singer hoping to bring the mystical island of Guava together with a music festival, while Rihanna plays his girlfriend, Kofi, and provides voice-over during a fairy-tale-like animated introduction about the fictional location and its valuable blue silk. Nonso Anozie (“Game of Thrones”) and Letitia Wright (“Black Panther”) also appear.
With a plot involving exploited workers, the struggles of musicians and a society divided between red and blue, the film incorporates themes present in much of Glover’s recent work, from the hit FX series “Atlanta” to his viral, Grammy-winning song and video for “This Is America,” which is interpolated in “Guava Island.”
The film was written by Glover’s brother Stephen and directed by his longtime collaborator Hiro Murai, who was also behind the camera for much of “Atlanta” and “This Is America.” Following its premiere on the grounds of Coachella on Thursday, and the Childish Gambino show on Friday night, “Guava Island” was made available for anyone to watch on Amazon for 18 hours starting Saturday at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time; it will then be available exclusively to Amazon Prime subscribers.
Pharos — did not make a show of plugging “Guava Island,” though he did incorporate tropical imagery and sounds into his set. For one unreleased song, he cleared a section in the crowd to scream over a cacophonous burst of complex drum rhythms, bathed in almost-apocalyptic red lights. He also performed the still-unreleased track “Human Sacrifice,” which debuted in a Google ad during the Grammy Awards in February.
Glover was overcome by emotion onstage while discussing the deaths of his father and the rappers Mac Miller and Nipsey Hussle. “What I’m starting to realize is all we really have is memories at the end of the day,” he told the crowd. “All we are really is like, data — you pass it on to your kids, you pass it on to your friends, your family.”
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