Films A to Z


128 min.
Year of Production:
Argiris Kavidas
Akis Ioannou
Yiannis Siradakis
Yiorgos Mazis

Panos H. Koutras
Jack Gold
Liz Gebhardt
Denis O'Hare
Production Company:
Focus Features
Berlinale Section:
Berlinale Category:
Feature Film

Gay Rights Activist. Friend. Lover. Unifier. Politician. Fighter. Icon. Inspiration. Hero. His life changed history, and his courage changed lives. In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man to be voted into a major public office in America. His victory was not just a victory for gay rights: he forged coalitions across the political spectrum. From senior citizens to union workers, Harvey Milk transformed the very nature of what it meant to be a fighter for human rights, and before his untimely and violent death in 1978, became a hero to all Americans.
Harvey Milk has been the subject of several books and the Academy Awardwinning documentary feature by Rob Epstein, THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK (1984); but MILK is the first fictional feature to explore the private aspects of his personal life and career.
Academy Award winner Sean Penn stars as Harvey Milk (and won his second Academy Award for this part) under the direction of Academy Award nominee and TEDDY AWARD winner Gus Van Sant, filmed on location in San Francisco, based on an original screenplay by Dustin Lance Black (who won an academy award in 2009 for MILK); produced by Academy Award winners Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen (AMERICAN BEAUTY).


Gus Van Sant was born in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, the son of a travelling salesman. During his early years his family moved constantly, but Van Sant took refuge in artistic pursuits—particularly painting and making semi-autobiographical super-8 films.

He entered the art school at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1970, and it was here that Van Sant came to experience the alternative cinema of such avant-garde directors as Andy Warhol, which became a catalyst for his own studies in filmmaking.

After an unsuccessful period in Hollywood in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Van Sant moved to New York City, honing his skills directing commercials. During his New York period, he saved the money required to produce his first feature film, Mala Noche (1985). A success on the festival circuit, it established a number of recurring themes in Van Sant’s work and brought his name to the attention of Universal. The studio eventually turned down the ideas the openly gay Van Sant pitched, perhaps due to the controversial nature of his preferred subjects.

Returning to independent production, Van Sant made the films Universal had declined—Drugstore Cowboy (1989) and My Own Private Idaho (1991), which showcased his affinity for society’s fringe-dwellers, such as drug-dealers and gay hustlers, and featured established young actors, Matt Dillon, River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves, whose reputations no doubt helped to raise Van Sant’s profile.

His subsequent film, however, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1994), was a commercial and critical disappointment, and saw Van Sant return to Hollywood production for his next film, the much-lauded black comedy To Die For (1995), which earned Nicole Kidman a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical.

Having made his reputation with small arthouse films, Van Sant was finally accepted into mainstream Hollywood with 1997’s Good Will Hunting, which earned nine Oscar nominations, winning two.

His next film project was a 1998 homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho; indeed, it was a shot-by-shot remake of the original, albeit in colour.

More recently, Van Sant has directed a trio of films about death: Gerry (2002); Elephant (2003), which won both the Best Director and Palme d’Or at Cannes that year; and Last Days (2005), which was also awarded at Cannes.

FILMOGRAFIE Gus Van Sant (selection)

2018 Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot  2011 The Advocate For Fagdom  2008 Milk  2007 Schau mir in die Augen, Kleiner  2005 Fabulous! The Story Of Queer Cinema  1986 My New Friend  1986 Five Ways to Kill Yourself 

Gus Van Sant IMDb

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