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Sluizer works to resurrect Dark Blood, River Phoenix's last project

Dark Blood, the movie River Phoenix [pictured] was working on at the time of his death, is set to be completed almost 20 years after it was abandoned.

Director George Sluizer is working on cutting together the film, which he shelved after the 23-year-old actor died of an overdose 11 days before shooting was completed in late 1993.

Eyeworks Film & TV Drama Managing Director Hans de Weers has confirmed that the company is in negotiations with the US insurance company that has the rights to the film.

Sluizer holds the non-commercial rights to Dark Blood - and will therefore be able to show the film on the festival circuit. De Weers has also raised the possibility that the film will be given a limited theatrical release.

The aim is to have a cut of Dark Blood ready for The Netherlands Film Festival in September. 

The Netherlands Film Fund has invested €100,000 in completion of the film.

“George is looking at the material and seeing what kind of good movie he can make out of it,” de Weers said.

Sluizer is working on the editing with Michiel Reichwein (the editor of Oscar winning Antonia’s Line.)

At the same time, Sluizer, now 79, is partnering with Dutch crowd funding initiative CineCrowd to raise financing to help him complete the film.

Phoenix’s character in Dark Blood is a disturbed young man living in the wilds and waiting for the apocalypse. The film also stars Judy Davis and Jonathan Pryce as Hollywood couple Harry and Buffy who get stranded in the desert after having car trouble during their “second honeymoon.” Boy (Phoenix’s character) saves the couple and takes the woman hostage. He longs for her and is convinced he can create a better world with her.

Speaking to ScreenDaily, Sluizer’s daughter Anouk Sluizer said that Sluizer had rushed to save the footage after learning in 1999 that the insurance company was planning to burn the negative.

“It is a quite amazing film. The actors are great, all three of them,” Anouk Sluizer said. She declined to say how her father was planning to complete the film given that 11 scheduled days weren’t actually filmed.

Sluizer, who was staying at the same Los Angeles hotel as Phoenix at the time of the actor’s death, has often spoken of the “very strong charisma” that Phoenix possessed. In the late 1990s, he floated the idea of using material from Dark Blood in a documentary about the actor.  “That, I think, would be of interest to all the acting schools of the world, quite apart from its historic and archival value,” he said in a 1998 interview.

 

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