The final film made by River Phoenix, “Dark Blood,” will receive its North American debut at the 30th annual Miami International Film Festival 20 years after it was made. The festival runs March 1-10.
Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis co-star in the film directed by George Sluizer, which follows a couple trying to save their marriage when their car breaks down in the desert. Taking shelter with a secluded young man who has lost his wife to leukemia, they quickly become his prisoners, leading to a tragic series of consequences.
When Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993 at age 23, he had completed 80% of filming on “Dark Blood.” Sluizer saved the footage and finally finished production on it, then world premiered it at the Dutch Film Festival last fall.
“‘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.’”
Phoenix, the brother of Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master”), was nominated himself for a supporting role in “Running on Empty” in 1989 and won an Independent Spirit Award for his lead role in “My Own Private Idaho” in 1991. His work in “Stand By Me,” “The Mosquito Coast” and “Sneakers” also showed him to be an emotionally mature actor with great promise. That he played the young Indiana Jones in “The Last Crusade” with Harrison Ford’s particular comic swagger points to more of what was lost when he passed.