George Sluizer began his career as an assistant to Michael Anderson, Sacha Guitry and Bert Haanstra and started producing and directing award-winning short films and documentaries, primarily for TV, i...
River Phoenix's final film has been snapped up at the Cannes Film Festival 21 years after the tragic actor's death. Production on director George Sluizer's Dark Blood came to a halt following the star's drug overdose death at Los Angeles' Viper Room on 31 October, 1993 and the moviemaker has spent the last two decades trying to revive the project and complete it.
His efforts paid off on Friday (16May14) when executives at Lionsgate picked up the film's North American rights. Sluizer tells The Hollywood Reporter, "When River died, the movie was totally cancelled and everyone went away. It was declared impossible to finish. The insurance company decided to destroy the film."
The 82-year-old Dutch director reveals he had to stop footage he'd shot from being destroyed in a London warehouse, adding, "We got all the equipment on a truck and I gave the order to send the film to New York, and then to a cinema museum in Holland. "The negatives were still good but part of the sound needed to be rebuilt and re-recorded. And only 65 per cent of the story was shot... so I had to rewrite the story."
Sluizer suffered another set back three years ago (11), when members of Phoenix's family made it clear they wanted nothing to do with the film. Dark Blood premiered in Berlin, Germany in February, 2013 and played at the Miami Film Festival in Florida a month later. The film is currently on release in Japan.
The actor died while shooting director George Sluizer's movie Dark Blood in 1993, and the movie lay unfinished until last year (12), when the Dutch filmmaker debuted it at the Netherlands Film Festival.
He will now show American critics and industry figures the Hollywood icon's final movie, about a man living on a nuclear test site in the desert, awaiting the end of the world. The movie also co-stars Jeremy Irons.
Jaie Laplante, the director of the film festival, says, "Dark Blood is a film of legend, one of Hollywood’s great mysteries. The tragic loss of River Phoenix’s outstanding talent is still profoundly felt 20 years later. We are proud that George Sluizer has honoured Miami as the place to finally share his remarkable collaboration with Phoenix and the other great artists involved with Dark Blood.”
Phoenix died after suffering drug-induced heart failure outside The Viper Room club in Hollywood in October, 1993. The Miami International Film Festival runs from 1 to 10 March (13).
The star was shooting a movie with Dutch director George Sluizer at the time of his death and the filmmaker has recently completed work on the abandoned film, titled Dark Blood.
In the movie, which also features Jeremy Irons, Phoenix played a man living on a nuclear test site in the desert, awaiting the end of the world.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Sluizer hid the footage after Phoenix's death, fearing people might try to destroy it, but he has since re-edited the film and he'll be presenting it in competition at the Netherlands Film Festival on 27 September (12).
Phoenix collapsed and died of drug-induced heart failure on the sidewalk outside the nightclub The Viper Room in Hollywood on 31 October, 1993.
George Sluizer was working on Dark Blood with River when the 23-year-old star died from a drug overdose outside Hollywood's The Viper Room in 1993.
The director has now re-edited the material and wants the late actor's younger sibling Joaquin to help him complete the project by recording a voice-over as River's character, Boy.
Sluizer tells the Hollywood Reporter, "The voices of both brothers are very much alike."
Sluizer hopes to release the final cut next year (12).
Directed first feature film, "Stamping Ground", a record of a rock music festival featuring performances by Pink Floyd, Santana and The Byrds
Directed the American remake of "The Vanishing"
First feature film as writer-producer-director, "Joao and the Knife"
Wrote first screenplay, "My Friend the Murderer"
Produced, wrote, and directed "The Vanishing," a successful and highly regarded thriller in the Hitchcock/Chabrol tradition
Produced and directed first experimental feature, "Clair-Obscur"
Worked as an assistant director to Michael Anderson on Mike Todd's production of "Around the World in Eighty Days"
George Sluizer began his career as an assistant to Michael Anderson, Sacha Guitry and Bert Haanstra and started producing and directing award-winning short films and documentaries, primarily for TV, in the early 1960s. A number of Sluizer's films document travels in Europe or Brazil; some were produced for the National Geographic Society and saw widespread international distribution. Continuing this work into the 70s, he also expanded into feature films, producing, among others, Werner Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo" (1982).
Sluizer received considerable international acclaim for adapting, producing and directing "The Vanishing" (1988), a haunting psychological thriller in the tradition of Hitchcock and Chabrol. After the film's success on the art-house circuit in the USA, he was hired to direct the wanting Hollywood remake (1993) starring Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland and Nancy Travis.
Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematographiques
Among the other feature films Sluizer has worked as director, producer and writer are "Twice a Woman" (1979) with Bibi Andersson and Anthony Perkins, "Tepito Si" (1982), a made-for-TV film shot in Mexico, and "Red Desert Penitentiary" (1985), one of the few English-language features Sluizer has made.
"The Vanishing" took second place as best foreign film from the New York Film Critics Circle (1991).