GUS VAN SANT (Director/Producer) received an Academy AwardÂ® nomination for Best Director for 1997s Good Will Hunting
GUS VAN SANT (Director/Producer) received an Academy Award®
nomination for Best Director for 1997s Good Will Hunting.
The story is about a janitor at MIT, a mathematical genius, in
trouble with the law who is assigned counseling instead of a more
unfavorable sentence. The film won two Academy Awards®, including
Best Supporting Actor (Robin Williams) and Best Original Screenplay
(Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) and six additional Academy Award®
nominations including one for Best Picture.
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 co-written by Van Sant (with Daniel Yost), starred
Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch and 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 new-age movie road movie exploring
sexual identity and social change. It was adapted by Van Sant
from Tom Robbin's magical and much loved novel and starred Uma
Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, Rain Phoenix and John Hurt.
Based on Joyce Maynard's book, To Die For, starred Nicole
Kidman as an ambitious small-town 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 BA at the Rhode Island
School of Design, he moved to Hollywood, were 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 1980s, 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 William S. Burrough's short story,
The Discipline of DE, a deadpan black & 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 re-teaming 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 award-winning video
"Under the Bridge." Early in his career, Van Sant spent
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 ta
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