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New Life for River Phoenix’s ‘Dark Blood’

Cinemavault sells thriller at AFM 20 years after actor's death

The American Film Market is marking a cinematic milestone — with sales starting for the first time on “Dark Blood,” two decades after the River Phoenix thriller was filmed by Dutch director George Sluizier.

The film had remained uncompleted due to the death of Phoenix in October 1993 shortly before the end of the project.

Phoenix played a young widower, who rescues a couple (Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis) whose car breaks but then holds them prisoner.

Sluzier held on to the footage and eventually finished the film by supplying the narration to the unfinished scenes — a solution that resolved the legal obstacles for the original investors in the film — even though he had never narrated before.

“Lawyers love to make things more complicated and I’m too old to spend my life with lawyers,” he said. “It occurred to me that I could save ‘Dark Blood’ from disappearing. I was not a professional narrator at that point but I’ve done three more since.”

So Sluizier, 81, has been out on the road with “Dark Blood,” which debuted in September 2012, at the Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht, and then showed at Berlin in February, followed by film festivals in Miami, Split, Jerusalem, Taipei, Sao Paulo, Durban, Moscow, Hong Kong and Bucharest.

“We got a standing ovation in Berlin,” he said.

Cinemavault is handling sales at AFM. “ ‘Dark Blood’ is an important part of cinematic history,” said the company’s Michaelangelo Masangkay. “River Phoenix’s performance is enchanting on the big screen and deserves to be seen by the world.”

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