Essential Gus Van Sant (& His Influences)

  • April 23, 2015 — June 5, 2015

Over the last three decades, Gus Van Sant has created an extraordinary body of film work. His first long-form films of the late 1980s and early 1990s, known as the “Portland Trilogy”, feature rebellious characters on the fringes of mainstream society who yearned to form new communities. The films became instant cult classics, earning Van Sant acknowledgment as one of the most talented and imaginative filmmakers of the indie film renaissance. Over the next decade, he directed a number of films that brought him critical and commercial success (the hugely popular Good Will Hunting and his bold remake of Hitchcock’s Pyscho), before embarking on a re-evaluation of his artistic process and a return to his early indie roots. This later remarkable group of films features innovative visual style and groundbreaking sound explorations. Along with this survey of his films, we offer an exciting selection of works by filmmakers that have influenced Van Sant’s film practice, including works by Stanley Kubrick, Werner Herzog, and Béla Tarr.—Mario Falsetto.

Mario Falsetto, Professor Emeritus in Film Studies at Concordia University, Montreal, and author of the just published “Conversations with Gus Van Sant,” is teaching “Essential Gus Van Sant,” an eight-session non-credit course April 25—June 20. See School of Film for registration information.

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Mala Noche

Directed by Gus Van Sant

Based on Portland poet Walt Curtis’ autobiographical novella, Mala Noche impressed both European and American critics and quickly established Van

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Heart of Glass

Directed by Werner Herzog

Herzog’s film, something of a curiosity in film history due to the fact that almost the entire cast performed while

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Drugstore Cowboy

Directed by Gus Van Sant

Van Sant’s acclaimed second feature is a daring and uncompromising look at outlaw junkie life based on the novel by


Gus Van Sant: Early Influences

Directed by Various

This program presents a selection of experimental works from the 1960s, made by some of the foremost practitioners of the

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My Own Private Idaho

Directed by Gus Van Sant

Due to a last minute scheduling conflict, Gus Van Sant will be unable to attend the screening. However, we are


Burroughs: The Movie

Directed by Howard Brookner

Brookner’s feature debut—which began as his senior thesis film at NYU with friends Jim Jarmusch and Tom DiCillo—is a devout,



Directed by Gus Van Sant

Filmed in the stunning deserts of northern Argentina, Utah, and Death Valley, Gerry falls into the category of minimalist road

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Werckmeister Harmonies

Directed by Béla Tarr

During the Soviet era in a bleak and brutal unnamed town on the Hungarian plain, a mysterious circus arrives in



Directed by Gus Van Sant

Winner of the Palme d ‘Or and Best Director awards at the Cannes Film Festival, Van Sant drew inspiration for



Directed by Alan Clarke

Via the depiction of a series of anonymous murders drawn from real police reports during the late 1980s, Clark offers

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Eyes Wide Shut

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

In the late 1990s, near the end of his career, Kubrick, known for his painstakingly crafted visions of Western culture—

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Last Days

Directed by Gus Van Sant

Michael Pitt portrays a hauntingly familiar figure in this meditation—dedicated to Kurt Cobain—on the final days in the life of

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The Times of Harvey Milk

Directed by Rob Epstein

Epstein’s landmark portrait of Harvey Milk (1930-1978), the first openly gay public-office-holder in United States history, retains its original power



Directed by Gus Van Sant

Leading an all-star cast (Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco) in Van Sant’s intimate and meticulously researched biographical drama, Sean