Photo of Gus Van Sant Gus Van Sant

Born July 24, 1952, in Louisville, Ky., to a traveling salesman and his wife, Gus Van Sant never had a chance to put down real roots, relying on his art to keep him grounded. As a high school student, he began writing and directing short films with a Super-8 camera and soon found his way to the Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied the works of avant-garde auteurs such as Andy Warhol and Jonas Mekas.

Van Sant's black-and-white film Mala Noche (1985) -- which he financed himself through a job at an advertising firm -- earned him critical acclaim, and he continued to experiment with unconventional films such as My Own Private Idaho (1991), Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993) and To Die For (1995).

Van Sant later received an Oscar nomination for Best Director for Good Will Hunting (1997) and claimed Best Director and Palme d'Or honors at the Cannes Film Festival for Elephant (2003). In 2008, he received another Oscar nod for directing Milk, starring Sean Penn.

Gus Van Sant in The Sea of Trees

The Sea of Trees

2016 PG-13

Ready to end it all, distraught Arthur Brennan travels to Japan's famed "suicide forest." But his plan is disrupted by the arrival of another lost soul, Takumi Nakamura, and what began as a quest to kill themselves instead becomes a tale of survival.

  • Gus Van Sant in Finding Forrester Finding Forrester
  • Gus Van Sant in Good Will Hunting Good Will Hunting
  • Gus Van Sant in My Own Private Idaho My Own Private Idaho
  • Gus Van Sant in Psycho Psycho
  • Gus Van Sant in The Canyons The Canyons
  • Gus Van Sant in Milk Milk
  • Gus Van Sant in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
  • Gus Van Sant in To Die For To Die For
  • Gus Van Sant in Elephant Elephant
  • Gus Van Sant in William S. Burroughs: A Man Within William S. Burroughs: A Man Within
  • Gus Van Sant in Promised Land Promised Land
  • Gus Van Sant in Paris, Je T'aime Paris, Je T'aime
  • Gus Van Sant in Paranoid Park Paranoid Park
  • Gus Van Sant in Mala Noche Mala Noche
  • Gus Van Sant in Drugstore Cowboy Drugstore Cowboy
  • Gus Van Sant in Last Days Last Days
  • Gus Van Sant in Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema
  • Gus Van Sant in Wholphin: Issue 7 Wholphin: Issue 7
  • Gus Van Sant in Restless Restless