A Phoenix will rise at the Miami International Film Festival this March, where Dark Blood – the final film starring fallen actor River Phoenix – will make its North American premiere. The movie had its debut screening at the Netherlands Film Festival in September 2012.
Dark Blood stars Phoenix as Boy, a young widower living in the desert who takes a couple (Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis) prisoner after their car breaks down. Phoenix was still shooting the film when he died in the wee hours of October 31, 1993 after ingesting a lethal combination of heroin and cocaine at Los Angeles’s Viper Room.
The incomplete film was then placed in storage until 1999, when Dark Blood director George Sluizer learned that it was in danger of being destroyed. Sluizer got his hands on the footage and held onto it until 2008, when a near-death experience inspired him to actually finish Dark Blood. (Rob Brunner explored the film’s unlikely road to completion in EW last September.)
“Dark Blood is a film of legend, one of Hollywood’s great mysteries,” the festival’s executive director Jaie Laplante said in a statement. “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.”
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