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GUS VAN SANT has been winning over critics and audiences alike since bursting on the scene with his first widely acclaimed feature, Mala Noche, which won the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Independent/Experimental Feature of 1987.

Drugstore Cowboy, directed and co­written by Van Sant (with Daniel Yost), starred Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch. It won numerous awards, including the 1989 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Director, the 1989 Pen Literary Award for screenplay adaptation, as well as the 1990 Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay.

His next feature, My Own Private Idaho, was a poetic film about the search for family which starred River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves. It won awards for Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Music at the Independent Spirit Awards, as well as the Critics' Prize for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival.

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues followed, a new­age road movie exploring sexual identity and social change. It was adapted by Van Sant from Tom Robbin's magical and much­loved novel and starred Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, Rain Phoenix and John Hurt.

Based on Joyce Maynard's book, Van Sant's most recent picture, To Die For, starred Nicole Kidman as an ambitious small­town television reporter who intimidates some teenagers (Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix) into murdering her husband Matt Dillon. The black comedy won a Golden Globe Award and was screened at the 1995 Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1952, Van Sant traveled around the country with his family. After earning a B.A. at the Rhode Island School of Design, he moved to Hollywood, where he began working with Ken Shapiro, the maker of the cult classic, The Groove Tube. While in Los Angeles, he made a small independent feature (which he later cut to feature length), Alice in Hollywood.

Since the early 1980's, Gus Van Sant's short films have been winning awards in film festivals around the world. His work includes an adaptation of his literary hero Williams S. Burrough's short story, The Discipline of DE, a deadpan black and white gem which debuted at the New York Film Festival.

Other acclaimed shorts include the darkly personal meditation Five Ways to Kill Yourself and Thanksgiving Prayer, a re­teaming with Burroughs which was exhibited with Derek Jarman's Edward II.

A longtime musician, Van Sant has also directed music videos for such artists as David Bowie, Elton John, Tracy Chapman and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, including the Pepper's award­winning video Under The Bridge.

Early in his career, Van Sant spent the two years in Manhattan creating commercials for a Madison Avenue advertising firm. He then crossed the continent to settle in Portland, Oregon, where he has lived and worked ever since, writing and directing films, shooting commercials and music videos, and, for a brief period, teaching film production at the Northwest Film Center. he has also continued to pursue his other talents ­ painting, photography, and writing. Van Sant published his first book of photography, 108 Portraits (Twelvetrees Press) in 1995 and in the fall of 1997, his first novel, pink, a satire on filmmaking, is being published by Doubleday.


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