When River Phoenix died in 1993 at the age of 23 it was a tragedy—the life of one of Hollywood’s most amazing and beautiful young talents cut short. But as heartbreaking as the all too short life is, his legacy will be revived this year at the Miami International Film Festival when director George Sluizer debuts Phoenix’s the final film. When Phoenix passed away in 1993, Sluizer’s Dark Blood was 80% completed, and the unfinished footage disappeared into a vault somewhere. But in 1999, when he learned that the remains would be burned "to make space," Sluizer brought the film to the Netherlands. After a decade of stillness, Dark Blood was finally completed last year, premiering to a standing ovation at the Dutch Film Festival.
The film tells the story of:
Jet-set Hollywood couple Harry (Jonathan Pryce) and Buffy (Judy Davis) travel through the desert on a second honeymoon, trying to save their marriage. Their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere leaving them to find shelter in Boy’s (River Phoenix) beaten down shack, unaware they will become his prisoners. Boy’s wife died of leukemia after nuclear tests occurred in the desert leaving him alone and far away from society. Buffy is seduced by Boy’s honesty and vulnerabilities, while Harry represents everything Boy hates about the civilized world and its culture. Buffy decides to sleep with Boy to buy the couple’s freedom, but these circumstances will push Harry to the edge, leading to a terrible tragedy.
The Miami International Film Festival, celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this year, will be held the first ten days of March and is "considered the preeminent film festival for showcasing Ibero-American cinema in the U.S., and a major launch pad for all international and documentary cinema." The Executive Director of the festival, Jaie Laplante states that, "Dark Blood is a film of legend, one of Hollywood’s great mysteries 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.”
The complete line-up for the festival will be announced later in the month.