Five Ways to Kill Yourself

Along with his other short film "My New Friend" Gus van Sant was awarded with the first TEDDY AWARD for best short film in 1987.


  • Runtime

    3 min
  • Country

    United States
  • Year of Presentation

  • Year of Production

  • Director

    Gus Van Sant
  • Cast

    Gus Van Sant, Mike Parker
  • Production Company

    Gus van Sant
  • Berlinale Section

  • Berlinale Category

    Short Film
  • Teddy Award Winner

    Best Short Film

Biography Gus Van Sant

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.