"Dark Blood," River Phoenix's last film before his death, has been completed and made its international premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival recently.
The brother to "Walk the Line" star Joaquin Phoenix, River died on Oct. 31, 1993 of heart failure caused by an overdose of cocaine and heroin. The actor died at age 23.
At the time of his death, "Dark Blood" was just a few weeks away from completion, but the tragedy immediately halted production.
Almost 20 years later, moviegoers were able to view the film during its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival last week.
"I did my best to keep all the creative work which everybody had done, cast and crew," said the director of the film, George Sluizer.
Now 80-years-old, the "Dark Blood" director felt compelled to finish the project.
"It was kind of urgency," Sluizer explained in a statement, according to CBS News. "The director Michelangelo Antonioni once said, 'If I can't film I prefer to die.' I can find myself in these words. You are a craftsman and you want to complete your work. I am a perfectionist. I wanted to finish 'Dark Blood' and I also wanted to preserve the cast and crew's creative work."
Phoenix was one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood at the time of his death. After starting his career at the age of 10, the actor's first notable appearance was in 1986's "Stand By Me," a coming-of-age film based on Stephen King's novella.
The actor was also well known for his roles in films such as "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," "Running on Empty," "My Own Private Idaho," among others. In 1993, Phoenix completed the last film before his death: "The Thing Called Love."
In his last role, Phoenix portrayed Boy in "Dark Blood," a young widower dealing with nuclear testing and its long-lasting and lethal effects. Co-stars Judy Davis and Jonathan Pryce joined him.
The film received its world premiere in the Netherlands in September, and it will hit stateside at the Miami Film Festival, which takes place from March 1 to March 10 this year.
"'Dark Blood' is a film of legend, one of Hollywood's great mysteries," said Miami International Film Festival executive director Jaie Laplante in a statement.
"The tragic loss of River Phoenix's outstanding talent is still profoundly felt 20 years later," the MIFF director continued. "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.'"
Meanwhile, Joaquin Phoenix, 38, recently received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his role in "The Master."