GOOD WILL HUNTING
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
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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