River Phoenix’s final film Dark Blood will receive its US debut at the 30th annual Miami International Film Festival this March.
Directed by George Sluizer, 80, the Dutch director saw Phoenix a mere four hours before the actor collapsed from a drug overdose on the sidewalk outside The Viper Room, a famed West Hollywood nightclub on October 30, 1993.
Phoenix died aged 23.
Sluizer and Phoeniz were, in fact, staying at the same hotel in Los Angeles. The pair, and the entire cast and crew of Dark Blood had relocated there after a six week shoot in Utah.
Sluizer told BBC News, “We had shot 80% – but it is not continuous, it is so many little pieces here and there.”
But just one day into the Los Angeles portion of the shoot Sluizer received word that Phoenix had died.
From that point on, financial issues and disputes between the various backers over who owned the negatives, meant the film stayed in storage.
Now, 20 years later, the film will premiere at the Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) during its March 1-10 run, Indiewire notes.
Nutshelled, the plot tells the story of a loner (Phoenix) who lives in the American desert awaiting the end of the world. His life changes dramatically when he rescues a couple whose car breaks down during a road-trip. After the couple stay with Phoenix at his home, they become his captives and things spiral tragically out of control.
The film premiered at the Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht in September last year, but the Miami Festival will be the first time US audiences will get to see Phoenix in his last ever film, hopefully at the height of his powers.
“Dark Blood is a film of legend, one of Hollywood’s great mysteries,” said MIFF executive director Jaie Laplante. “The tragic loss of River Phoenix’s outstanding talent is still profoundly felt 20 years later. We are proud that George Sluizer has honored Miami as the place to finally share his remarkable collaboration with Phoenix and the other great artists involved with Dark Blood.”
River is the brother of Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix (The Master). During his River’s short career, he won an Independent Spirit Award for his lead role in My Own Private Idaho in 1991 and starred in numerous films such as Stand By Me, Little Nikita, and The Mosquito Coast.
“When it [Dark Blood] will have a bigger release, I cannot tell you,” Sluizer told the BBC. “But I certainly think it will quite soon.”
The film also stars Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis.