Gus Green Van Sant, Jr. (born July 24, 1952) is an American film director, screenwriter, painter, photographer, musician, and author. He is a two-time nominee of the Academy Award for Best Director—for Good Will Hunting (1997) and Milk (2008), both of which were also nominated for Best Picture—and won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his film Elephant (2003). He lives in Portland, Oregon.
His early career was devoted to directing television commercials in the Pacific Northwest. In his films, he has dealt with themes concerning homosexuality and other marginalized subcultures. His filmography as writer and director includes a 1994 adaptation of Tom Robbins' 1976 novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which features a diverse cast (Keanu Reeves, Roseanne Barr, Uma Thurman, and k.d. lang, with cameos by William S. Burroughs and Heather Graham, among others); and My Own Private Idaho (1991), also starring Reeves as well as River Phoenix.
He wrote the screenplays for most of his early movies, and wrote one novel, Pink. A book of his photography has also been published, called 108 Portraits.