River Phoenix Back On Screen 20 Years After His Death
Twenty years after the death of 23-year-old River Phoenix from a drug overdose 10 days before the completion of production on Dark Blood, the film was shown at the Berlin Film Festival with director George Sluizer reading from the screenplay over still photos in place of the missing scenes. At a news conference, Sluizer described how he had rescued the raw footage days before it was scheduled to be destroyed. And even then, some of the scenes that had been shot were missing. It made it necessary to rethink the story and what could be told, he said. Nevertheless, he indicated, the film may never get a theatrical release because of difficult negotiations with the insurance company that acquired the film after paying out $5.7 million after Phoenix's death. Sluizer admitted breaking into the storage vault where the film had been stored after learning that the footage was about to be destroyed. I call it saving, not stealing, Sluizer said. Morally, I was saving important material. If you go to the Guggenheim and it's on fire and you save a painting, you're not stealing a painting, you're saving it.