River Phoenix's Final Film to Make U.S. Debut at Miami Film Festival

River Phoenix - photo portrait session - H - 1988
George Rose/Getty Images

"Dark Blood" was 80 percent complete when Phoenix died in 1993, and the footage disappeared into a vault.

Nearly two decades after his death, River Phoenix's final film, Dark Blood, will screen for the first time in North America at the upcoming Miami International Film Festival.

Directed by George Sluizer and co-starring Jonathan Pryce and Judy DavisDark Blood was 80 percent complete when Phoenix passed away in October 1993, and the footage disappeared into a vault. In 1999 Sluizer heard that the film was going to be burned to make space, and with less than 48 hours notice, he saved Dark Blood, getting it moved to The Netherlands. The footage then sat for more than 10 years until last year when the director set about finishing the film, which premiered in the fall of 2012 at the Dutch Film Festival.

The film revolves around a jet-set Hollywood couple (Pryce and Davis) who 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 a man’s (Phoenix) beaten-down shack, unaware that they will become his prisoners.

Dark Blood is a film of legend, one of Hollywood’s great mysteries,” said MIFF executive director Jaie Laplante. “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.”

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the festival, which runs from March 1-10. Dark Blood joins previously announced titles including the U.S. premieres of Fernando Trueba’s The Artist and the Model and Carlos Lechuga’s Molasses.

Phoenix's family continues to distance itself from the film, saying in October, “Despite George Sluizer’s claim that he has been communicating with River Phoenix’s family in regard to releasing River’s last film, Joaquin Phoenix and his family have not been in communication with the director nor will they participate in any way.”

The MIFF's complete lineup will be announced in late January.