Donald Glover, also known as the musician Childish Gambino and the Emmy-winning co-creator and star of Atlanta, went ahead and made a movie without telling us. We’re not too mad about it; the film is called Guava Island, it comes out this weekend, and for a limited time, it will be available to stream for free.
The 54-minute movie is launching in tandem with Glover’s performance at the Coachella music festival which takes place every year in Indio, California. Such a unique release must come with a unique promotional strategy, and Guava Island certainly has that.
What is Guava Island, even?
Guava Island is the first feature film directed by Hiro Murai, who regularly works with Glover on Atlanta. (We have Murai to thank for such gems as show’s haunting “Teddy Perkins” episode, for example.) The screenplay is credited to Glover’s brother Stephen, another Atlanta collaborator, and production discretely took place last summer in Cuba, according to Vanity Fair.
Donald Glover stars in Guava Island as a singer named Deni, who uses the power of music to uplift the titular island. Rihanna plays his girlfriend, Kofi. Nonso Anozie (Game of Thrones’ Xaro Xhoan Daxos; Cinderella’s captain of the guards) plays a man named Red, who tries to prevent Deni from putting on a music festival, because he wants to keep the island’s residents at work. (Letitia Wright, a.k.a. Shuri of Black Panther renown, rounds out the cast in a small role.)
Amazon Studios is distributing the film, which held its “theatrical” premiere on April 11 at Coachella.
What does Coachella have to do with it?
Guava Island’s first screening was held on April 11 at Coachella’s festival grounds, as an appetizer of sorts for Glover’s performance. Glover’s musical alter ego Childish Gambino is headlining the Friday night lineup at this year’s festival, playing late-night sets on both April 12 and April 19 (Coachella is now a two-weekend affair). The festival is an apt venue for the short, music-filled film, which reportedly a showcase for Childish Gambino’s catalog. Expect songs like “This Is America” to feature on the soundtrack; early reviews say that Guava Island even pays homage to that song’s thought-provoking, unforgettable music video.
Sadly, Rihanna does not perform in the movie — a serious drawback.
How do I watch Guava Island?
Here comes the arguably convoluted part.
Guava Island will begin streaming on Amazon Prime Video for free — no membership required — starting at 12:01 am Pacific on Saturday, April 13. That schedule means it will follow Childish Gambino’s Friday-night Coachella set, which is scheduled for 11:25 pm Pacific. (The set will likely run past Guava Island’s premiere time, but you can still consider the set a pre-show.)
The catch is that Guava Island will only stream for free on Amazon for 18 hours — until 6:01 pm Pacific/9:01 pm Eastern on April 13.
Additionally, right before the free period ends on Amazon Prime Video, the movie will stream on two other platforms, for an even more limited time, also for free: Guava Island will stream one time on both Coachella’s YouTube channel and on the gaming live-stream site Twitch starting at 5 pm Pacific/8 pm Eastern.
After that, Guava Island will remain available to stream on Amazon Prime Video following the free viewing period; you’ll just need a Prime membership to access it.