Guava Island

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Guava Island
Directed byHiro Murai
Produced by
Screenplay byStephen Glover
Story by
  • Donald Glover
  • Stephen Glover
  • Ibra Ake
  • Jamal Olori
  • Fam Udeorji
Music byMichael Uzowuru
CinematographyChristian Sprenger
Edited byIsaac Hagy
Distributed byAmazon Studios
Regency Enterprises
Release date
  • April 11, 2019 (2019-04-11) (Coachella)
  • April 13, 2019 (2019-04-13) (United States)
Running time
56 minutes
CountryUnited States

Guava Island is a 2019 American musical film directed by Hiro Murai (his feature directorial debut) with a screenplay by Stephen Glover from a story by Donald Glover, Stephen Glover, Ibra Ake, Jamal Olori and Fam Udeorji. It stars Donald Glover and Rihanna in the lead roles of Deni and Kofi, respectively, and was first exhibited at Coachella on April 11, 2019[1]. It was then released on April 13, 2019, by Amazon Studios through Amazon Prime Video for anyone to watch without a subscription for 18 hours before being available to Prime subscribers only. In the final hour of the 18 hours, the film was streamed on the Coachella YouTube page and Twitch.[2]


An animated folk tale narrated by Kofi Novia introduces the origins of Guava Island and the music played by Deni Maroon. Kofi and Deni live together and she wakes up to Deni playing a tune on the guitar. Deni, a local celebrity, rushes out of the house and is greeted by many passersby on the street on his way to work; Deni is holding a music festival that the whole town is looking forward to. He is mugged by a group of kids he knows and he convinces them not to rob him by promising them seats up front at the festival.

Kofi works as a seamstress with Yara while Deni works for Red Cargo, a business magnate on the island. While at work, an employee details what he would do if he were able to emigrate to America, which Deni dismisses as ignorant ("This Is America"). Deni is kidnapped and taken to Red Cargo's office. Red bribes Deni into canceling his festival so that it will not interrupt productivity the next day. When Deni challenges him, Red destroys his guitar.

He returns to Kofi, who immediately questions his injury and his guitar's absence. Deni brushes off her inquiry, instead serenading her with the song he had promised to write since they were children ("Summertime Magic"). They are interrupted when Deni suddenly has to go, and she is not able to tell him at that moment she is pregnant. Kofi expresses to Yara that she is reluctant to tell him because of his free-spirited lifestyle.

Inspired by two children, Zoila and Mapi ("Time"), Deni performs on the radio again and announces that the festival is back on ("Feels Like Summer"). Kofi is ambushed by Red while both look for Deni; Red asks Kofi to tell him to break a leg. Deni starts the festival late, and performs a song dedicated to Zoila and Mapi ("Saturday"). Kofi spots a masked gunman just before he opens fire on the stage. Deni attempts to escape through an alleyway, but the gunman eventually catches up and assassinates him.

Red is delighted with the development, only to find out all of his employees have left work. Kofi and the islanders have all opted to attend a joyous blue-themed memorial for Deni ("Die with You"); Kofi states that they all finally "got their day". Kofi tells their child a new and improved version of the story.


  • Donald Glover as Deni Maroon, a Cuban musician who "is determined to throw a festival for his island community"[3][4]
  • Rihanna as Kofi Novia, Deni's girlfriend and musical inspiration[3][4]
  • Letitia Wright as Yara Love
  • Nonso Anozie as Red Cargo, "a shady island tycoon" whose business interests conflict with Deni's festival[4]
  • Betiza Bistmark Calderón as Emani Dune
  • Yansel Alberto Monagas Pérez as Coley
  • Ayensi Amilgar Jardines Delgado as Dodo
  • Karla Talía Pino Piloto as Zoila
  • Alain Jonathan Amat Rodriguez as Mapi


In August 2018, it had been reported that actors and musicians Donald Glover and Rihanna had been filming a secret project in Cuba titled Guava Island throughout that summer. Glover's Atlanta collaborator Hiro Murai was directing, with Letitia Wright and Nonso Anozie also involved.[5]


The film's score was composed by Michael Uzowuru, with its soundtrack also including several songs performed by Glover as Childish Gambino:

Featured songs
1."Die With You" (performed by Childish Gambino)
2."Red's Cargo" (performed by Donald Glover and Ernesto Gomez)Glover  
3."Dialogo Colombiano" (performed by Afrekete)Traditional arr. Javier Campos Martinez  
4."This Is America" (performed by Childish Gambino)
  • Glover
  • Göransson
5."Summertime Magic" (performed by Childish Gambino)
  • Glover
  • Göransson
  • Glover
  • Göransson
6."Baila Mi Rumba" (performed by Julio Gutiérrez)Francisco Fellove Valdés  
7."Time" (performed by Karla Talia Pino Piloto and Alain Jonathan Amat Rodriguez)
  • Glover
  • Göransson
  • Glover
  • Göransson
8."Feels Like Summer" (performed by Childish Gambino and Ernesto Gomez)
  • Glover
  • Göransson
  • Glover
  • Göransson
9."Saturday" (performed by Childish Gambino and Deni's Band)
  • Glover
  • Göransson
  • Glover
  • Göransson
10."Die With You" (island version; performed by El Alacran)
  • Glover
  • Natche


The trailer for the full-length movie premiered on November 24 at the PHAROS festival in New Zealand.[6] The footage featured Glover singing and strumming a guitar while in the presence of Rihanna, who plays his girlfriend on screen.

On April 5, 2019, advertisements for Guava Island appeared on Spotify indicating something happening on "Saturday Night | April 13". The film debuted at Coachella on April 11, 2019. That same weekend, Glover performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The 30-second advertisement features Glover singing, and ending with "I'll see you at the show, everyone". Clicking the advertisement leads to the Rap Caviar playlist curated by Spotify, which is currently "presented by Guava Island" for Spotify users.[7][8] A billboard showcasing the same advertisement art also appeared in Bushwick, Brooklyn.[9] It was later revealed Amazon Studios would distribute the film, and Regency Enterprises had financed the film, with it being released on April 13.[10]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 77% based on reviews from 26 critics, with an average rating of 6.46/10.[11] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 6 reviews, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[12]

Peter Debruge of Variety magazine writes "the film serves as a shorter, tighter Purple Rain, a self-mythologizing origin story from the artist formerly known as Childish Gambino, reintroduced here as Deni Maroon." Debruge expresses disappointment that film features less music than expected and that Rihanna does not sing. He praises the film as it "Plugs squarely into the zeitgeist, answering conflict with a call for love."[13] In The A. V. Club, Joelle Monique gave the film a C+, summing up her review, "Short, sweet, and to the point Guava Island proves a catchy little musical number".[14]

Some viewers noticed a similarity to the plot and themes with the recent death of American rapper Nipsey Hussle.[15][16]


  1. ^ Zemler, Emily; Zemler, Emily (11 April 2019). "Donald Glover to Stream 'Guava Island' Film With Rihanna for Free on Amazon". Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  2. ^ Frank, Allegra (12 April 2019). "Donald Glover and Rihanna's surprise film Guava Island is streaming free for a limited time". Vox. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Donald Glover and Rihanna's 'Guava Island' Movie Drops on Amazon Prime Video This Weekend [Updated]". Slash Film. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "'Guava Island' First Look: Childish Gambino's Mystery Project With Rihanna Is Unveiled". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  5. ^ Childish Gambino visitó la Fábrica de Arte Cubano (+ Foto) (in Spanish)
  6. ^ "Watch the surprise trailer for Rihanna and Donald Glover's new film 'Guava Island' - NME". NME. 2018-11-25. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  7. ^ "Donald Glover's 'Guava Island' Project f/ Rihanna Might Get a Coachella Reveal". Complex. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  8. ^ "Childish Gambino 'Guava Island' Ads Appear on Spotify". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  9. ^ "r/donaldglover - Drove past this earlier today". reddit. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  10. ^ Sperling, Nicole (April 10, 2019). "Exclusive: Inside Amazon's Plan for Donald Glover's Secret, Rihanna-Starring Movie". Vanity Fair. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  11. ^ "Guava Island (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  12. ^ "Guava Island". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Monique, Joelle (April 16, 2019). "Donald Glover and Rihanna Find Guava Island in the Space Between Love and War". The A. V. Club.
  15. ^ "Guava Island: Fans respond to Donald Glover and Rihanna's new film". BBC News.
  16. ^ "How Donald Glover and His Team of Collaborators Wrote, Then Made, 'Guava Island'". Rolling Stone. This conception of America, as a broken, cruel system that breaks as often as it makes, is something the Royalty crew is increasingly interested in exploring. Stephen articulates why that theme has become the guiding force for the group’s recent work. "I think it’s something that we as a crew, Royalty, talk about a lot. I think a lot of people, like Nipsey Hussle, it’s this idea of capitalism in America and how it’s left people out over the years. But at the same time, it has the power to empower you if you can wield it. The idea of capitalism and the relation that black people especially have to capitalism is something that’s interesting to us."

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