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Dark Blood world premiere coverage

Dark Blood

Dark Blood premiere and George Sluizer retrospective at the Netherlands Film Festival 2012

It's not every day that a new River Phoenix movie is released. So I figured that I had to be there to see the premiere, seeing as it was only a few hours of train from where I live.
Utrecht is a lovely town, at least the historical center with canals and old cobblestone streets, a lot of it pedestrian ways.

I went to the Foyer of the Netherlands Film Festival on Neude, to pick my ticket for the documentary Filming Beyond Boundaries (Filmen over Grenzen). There was a poster for Dark Blood behind the counter, and it was pretty strange to see River on a new film poster as well.

After a bit of sight-seeing, I went to the theater where the documentary was shown, the Wolff City. It's only a 5 min walk away from the big Municipal Theatre where the premiere was to be held, and where a covered red carpet was already built. 5 mn walk. I got in the highest room of the Wolff City theater, with its themed decorations.

The theater was half full, with a lot of arty young people (film students probably?). We had an introduction in Dutch by a man from the festival, who seemed very passionate about it, but alas... me no speak Dutch.

I knew the documentary, Filmen over Grenzen, was partly in Dutch too, but I thought it would allow me to see at least a few scenes of Dark Blood. It turned out to also have a significant number of interviews in English, from people who worked with George Sluizer : Karen Black, actress in Dark Blood and Crime City. Jeff Bridges, actor in The Vanishing. Nik Powell, Dark Blood producer. Ed Lachman, cinematographer. James Michael Taylor, musician who contributed music in Dark Blood and played in Red Desert Penitentiary. And my few words of German helped me figure out some other bits.

Filming Beyond Boundaries review

After a small snack, I walked to the Municipal Theatre, with the Golden Calf illuminated on the grass in front of it. The Golden Calf is also the name of the awards given at the Netherlands Film Festival.

The invitation, a nice glossy A5 card, was waiting for me at the desk. Considering the complicated history of the movie being made and the trip to Utrecht, it felt a bit unreal.

The premiere was an important event because of George Sluizer's reputation as a director, of the international movie casting, and of the peculiar story of the movie, only being completed 19 years later. And so apparently, all of Netherlands movie and TV industry was there.

There was this strange award-giving ceremony by someone I didn't know to someone I didn't know, in a language I don't understand. And after another introduction in Dutch and English by a festival official, the movie began.

Dark Blood review

The movie was saluted with a double standing ovation. George Sluizer walked up on stage and gave a 20 minutes heartfelt and humorous speech, to speak about all the ones who had worked on Dark Blood, both in the past in 1993 and in the more present, in 2012, to help it get completed. After the movie end that got two rounds of applause, George Sluizer came up on stage with clutches, garnering a long standing ovation. He gave a long speech (20 mn) about the movie, starting with words for the absentees - first of which River. He said his death was a tragedy for him and the crew, to lose someone so gentle and talented. George Sluizer received a letter from Heart Phoenix, quoting her : after a long period of grief, she used River's estate to create a fundation, the RP Center for Peace, against violence. She made the decision that neither her nor the rest of the family will participate in any way to anything related to River's work as an actor. She wishes George Sluizer a better health, and hopes his movie will find acknowledgement - "and I believe your applause means it does", added Mr Sluizer.
Neither Judy Davis nor her agent responded to the many invitations sent.
Jonathan Pryce would have loved to be there, but he was playing Macbeth on stage in London so he couldn't be there.
Karen Black, who plays the motel lady and he calls "a very loyal friend of mine", who always knows when he's in a somber mood and calls him from LA to cheer him up, wanted to come. But she called him 3 days before to say she is starting a new treatment for her cancer.
Others were able to make it, though, and were called on stage by George Sluizer to be thanked by him and the crowd. He introduced George Aguilar, one of the Navajos playing in the movie, who came with his wife Josiane Balasko (French actress and director). He encouraged cinematographer Ed Lachman, to join him on stage with a "We're both crippled and we're fabulous!". James Michael Taylor, who played in his movie Red Desert Penitentiary and composed music for the movie, was also there.
Exec producer Nik Powell also walked up on stage and said that he had doubted about the possibilities of completing the movie from the existing material, but that upon seeing the final edit, "as we say in my country, boy done good!".
George Sluizer also thanked his long time wife for her support, and their daughter Anouk for working at getting together the funding and the event.

There were promotional postcards available at various Festival places :

Huge thanks to Anouk Sluizer and George Sluizer for allowing me to see the movie on the big screen.

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