Donald Glover continues to grow and impress as an artist, adding the short film "Guava Island" to his impressive Grammy-winning music curriculum as Childish Gambino and his Emmy-winning "Atlanta" show.
The 55-minute movie apparently came out of nowhere. In early April, Spotify began running ads for "Guava Island" and created a hidden playlist inspired by the movie. Amazon Prime Video released a short teaser last week featuring Glover and Rihanna dancing in radiant beach costumes to drum beat. Then, Glover showed the film exclusively to the Coachella attendees on Saturday as part of its set of headlines. For 18 hours, anyone could watch the movie for free on Amazon Prime Video, but now only subscribers can watch it.
Somewhere between an extended television episode and a feature film, "Guava Island" tackles many issues at its tight execution time. With FX's "Atlanta" on pause, the movie could be the key to Glover and his team getting an Emmy or two this year.
From "Atlanta" to "Isla Guava"
Glover recruited his frequent collaborator Hiro Murai to direct the film. Murai has directed several episodes of "Atlanta", "Barry" on HBO and the Grammy-winning music video for "This is America" by Childish Gambino. Stephen Glover, writer of "Atlanta" and Donald's younger brother, wrote the screenplay for "Guava Island."
The production of the film was mostly silent. Word spread that Glover and Rihanna were filming a project in Cuba last summer, but the details were much more alarming. The "Black Panther" actress, Letitia Wright and Nonso Anozie, whom fans of "Game of Thrones" will recognize as Xaro Xhoan Daxos of Qarth (a bite), also joined the production. Several months later, the secret finally broke down and fans could see Glover's latest artistic achievement.
Arriving on the island
The colorful film serves as a parable for art and capitalism, but also as a visual album for Childish Gambino's recent jams, such as "This Is America," "Feels Like Summer," and "Summertime Magic." A charming animated introduction narrated by Rihanna explains The origins of the guava island. The ancient gods created a magical island far from the sins and war of humanity; However, violence eventually takes power and industrializes paradise.
Rihanna plays Kofi Novia, a seamstress and inspiration for the music of her boyfriend Deni Maroon (Glover). The beautiful melodies of Deni unite the working class of the island, who works for the dictator Red Cargo (Anozie), but has dreams of fleeing with Kofi to have a freer life. Red hears Deni's plans for a revolution and kills him, leading to a factory outlet and a public funeral for the musical martyr.
Similar to the visual album "Limonada" by Beyoncé, "Isla Guava" combines her art with sociopolitical symbolism, especially through color. The capitalist and colonizing forces of the reds wear the colors of their leaders, and the working-class characters wear blue clothes made of magical silkworms on the island. The red and blue symbolism surely has political implications. Even Maroon, Deni's surname, refers to his status as a Red employee, who allows him to operate a radio station that plays music to stifle his workers. While the rest of the characters have a routine color code, Deni and Kofi wear a mixture of reds, blues and yellows, trapped between social classes and the struggle for power.
A true artist to the end, Deni disobeys Red's threats to stop playing music and organizes a festival for workers on the island. Even when faced with death, he believes that his art will prevail and that his music and his death will finally unite the lower class against the ruler.
"Isla Guava" is too short to be considered for any Emmy of movies for television, but Amazon will surely promote it to obtain a special exceptional variety (prerecorded). Last year, Netflix's special "Dave Chappelle: Equanimity" took home the award, but James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke Primetime Specials" dominated the previous two years. Glover's film will face fierce competition this year as "Homecoming", the Netflix documentary about the 2018 performance of Beyoncé's Coachella, which will compete in the same category.
Amazon will report that it will send "Guava Island" to write, direct and other awards below the line in the special category of varieties. If the songs were created specifically for the film, they could also compete for outstanding original music and lyrics.