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River Phoenix’s final film to make North American debut

- January 15th, 2013

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Nearly 20 years after his death, River Phoenix’s final film, Dark Blood, will have its North American premiere at the 30th annual Miami International Film Festival next month.

Phoenix, who was the older brother of Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix, died of a drug overdose at age 23 on Oct. 31, 1993, outside The Viper Room – a West Hollywood nightclub that was co-owned at the time by Johnny Depp.

When he died, Phoenix was in the midst of filming the thriller, which was only 80% complete, Dutch filmmaker George Sluizer told the BBC last year. With several weeks still remaining on the shoot, the film was scrapped after the actor’s death.

Sluizer, who kept the footage, decided to finish the project in 2011.

“A few years ago, I had an aneurysm and was told I was going to die quite quickly. I said, well I want to finish the film and to leave not a garbage bag of film, but something decent. And that’s what I did in 2011,” he said in an interview with the BBC.

Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis co-star in the film in which they become prisoners of a widower (played by Phoenix) who is living in the desert.

MIFF executive director Jaie Laplante praised Phoenix’s final flick, which premiered at the Netherlands film festival last fall. “Dark Blood is a film of legend, one of Hollywood’s great mysteries,” he said.

Nominated for an Oscar in his own right (for 1989′s Running on Empty), Phoenix was poised to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. In his brief career he worked with Rob Reiner (Stand By Me), Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho), Steven Spielberg (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), Peter Bogdanovich (The Thing Called Love), Robert Redford (Sneakers) and Lawrence Kasdan (I Love You to Death).

Check out the trailer for Dark Blood and us know what you think of Phoenix’s film legacy in the comments below.