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Biographies & Documentaries

On this page are listed works dedicated to River Phoenix :

Biographies Documentaries Shorts movies about River

If you know of others, please let me know at .



River Phoenix: A Short Life
by Brian J. Robb.
Published by Plexus in 1995. The first book to be published about River following his death. Plenty of good colour and mono pix.
ISBN 0-85965-214-9


The River Phoenix Album
by Penelope Dening.
Published by Plexus. A large format picture book with a concise and illuminating appraisal of River's life and work.
ISBN 0-85965-229-7

River Phoenix : Hero and Heartthrob by Grace Catalano.
Published 1986 by Bantam, now out of print.

In Search for River Phoenix by Barry C. Lawrence.
Barry Lawrence traveled in the steps of River Phoenix to retrace as much of his life as possible in his book.

Lost In Hollywood: The Fast Times and Short Life of River Phoenix by John Glatt.
Published by Donald I. Fine (US) in 1995. Also published in UK by Piatkus under the title River Phoenix : The Biography.
The first major biography, a little lightweight in places but well worth a read. A rather poor selection of pictures though, at least in the UK version.
ISBN 0-74991-511-0

River Phoenix by Penny Stempel. One in a series entitled "They Died Too Young" published by Parragon. A neat little pocket sized book, available as far as I know only through Woolworth stores in the UK. It can be ordered to WATTERSTONE'S book store, tel.0171-581-8522.
ISBN 0-75250-725-7

There's been a re-release of this biography "River Phoenix : They Died Too Young" in a more usual format, and library binding. It's published by Chelsea House Pub in January 2000.
ISBN 0-79105-229-X



Running on Empty
by John Barker.
A biography written by a fan, for fans, published by Phoenix Literary Productions
ISBN 0-96656-120-1


Child Stars, Vol. 9: River Phoenix
by Dana Rasmussen (credited as Dana Rasmusse).
Dana Rasmussen wrote a series of books about child stars, including this one.
# ISBN-10: 1170680240 - # ISBN-13: 978-1170680247 (Added March 31, 2011)


The River Phoenix Handbook - Everything you need to know about River Phoenix
by Emily Smith .
Another author specializing in celebrities mini-bios. Publisher: Emereo Pty Limited (January 23, 2012)
# ISBN-10: 1743389477 (Added October 31, 2012)
Last night at the Viper Room - River Phoenix and the Hollywood he left behind
by Gavin Edwards.
Rolling Stone reporter Gavin Edwards wrote this new biography of River Phoenix, that is also a study of how Hollywood and fame affect people, and the impression that River left on the people he met. Publisher : It Books (Released October 22, 2013)
# ISBN-10: 0062273159 - # ISBN-13: 978-0062273154 (Added October 31, 2013)
Reviews and long excerpts in the following articles :
Rolling Stone - focus on Stand by Me
Grantland - focus on Keanu Reeves
Vanity Fair - focus on Sneakers
Slate - focus on Dark Blood
Interview of Gavin Edwards


"This Road Will Never End" : this documentary film about River was shown by Channel 4 Television in the UK on September 8th 1996.
More information and review here.
A kind soul and fellow fan uploaded the Channel 4 documentary "This Road will never end" on Youtube. You can save the video by copying the link in this website : . Thank you Stash Puppet! (Added March 5, 2014)

E! True Hollywood Story : The E! Entertainment Channel in US dedicated one of its THS documentaries to River. Rather tasteless in general, but not as much as feared, retrospectively, and featuring a couple of rare documents.

Eclipsed by Death: The Life of River Phoenix : this River Phoenix documentary was done by Mr John Griffin for the Celebrity Channel. It aired in US on March 12 and 13, 2002, on the Arts & Entertainment channel.
US residents can buy the show on tape on the Biography site here (unfortunately, shipment is not allowed outside US so far).
Unlike the E! one, this documentary was not the result of a commission, but was initiated by Mr Griffin to present a more complete image of River that was usually showed. It features interviews of people who worked with River, rare footage.

The Last 24 : (also known as "The Final 24") one episode of the a documentary series produced by Discovery Channel was about the last day of River.
More information and review here.. (Added August 23, 2007)

Filmen over grenzen (Filming beyond boundaries) (2006) : this documentary about George Sluizer's work as a director features footage from "Dark Blood", the movie that River and George Sluizer were working on together at the time of River's death's. (Added August 23, 2007)
More information and review here. (Added October 31, 2012)

James Franco used unseen footage of My Own Private Idaho that he edited into two separate experimental long features movies, With Gus Van Sant's blessing :
- Endless Idaho, a 12-hour edit of outtakes, deleted scenes, alternate takes, and behind-the-scenes footage, with music by Luke Paquin and Tim O'Keefe
- My Own Private River, 100 min. focused on River's performance and how he drifted into his role, set to a score by REM's Michael Stipe
Both movies are shown at the Gagosian gallery in Beverly Hills from February 19, 2011 to April 9, 2011, in an exhibition called Unfinished, along with a series of watercolours by Van Sant reminiscing of the movie characters.
Guardian article about the movie (Added March 31, 2011)

Too Young to Die : River Phoenix (2013) : German documentary film production company Broadview TV has completed in 2013 a 52' documentary about River in their ongoing series "Too Young To Die".

For French and German viewers, it aired on Arte on August 9th, 2014 in the Summer of the 90es program.
Attention Australian fans : it will air on Australian TV (Foxtel) on March 12, 2014.
Official trailer here. (Added March 5, 2014)
More information and review here. (Added August 23, 2014)
You can view or buy the documentary here on Vimeo - VOD (Added October 31, 2014)

Short movies about River

*American Fame Pt. 1: Drowning River Phoenix.
This short movie directed by Cam Archer reflects the effect on fame on the life of River. It was shown in several film festivals in 2004. Jasper Bel plays the part of River Phoenix. (added October 2006, 31)

*French director Kevin Robic shot a short movie dedicated to River Phoenix, inspired by his life, and simply called "River Phoenix" : Watch the movie here on DailyMotion (official).
It's done by way of Rain Phoenix (played by Sara Charrier), telling her brother's story to a journalist during an interview about her role in Gus Van Sant's "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues". River is played by Kevin Robic in flashbacks of her memories.(Added March 31, 2011)

Kevin Robic also uploaded a filmed making of of this short movie.
Interview of Kevin Robic for the River Phoenix Pages.

"I've learned that if you can't get it all together to accomplish this thing called peace, you do at least your part in your life, because that's where you can truly make an immediate difference." -- River Phoenix

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