The honoreD director spoke about his career and filmmaking
Yesterday, international tributee Gus Van Sant’s Master Class was help during the 22nd edition of GIFF at the Ángela Peralta Theater.
Starting at 1:00 p.m., the conference was kicked off by Federal Secreatary of Cultural Development Édgar San Juan, who began by thanking Sarah Hoch and GIFF’s organizing committee for making this possible.
Gus Van Sant began by talking about where his interest for art and cinema began. Very early in his life, he realized that cinema was not only an escapist activity, but that there was also a psychological depth involved, which he later transferred to his work. During this time, Surrealism meant an unexpected and extravagant discovery from which he also took influence.
Then there was a review of his early career, where topics such as his collaboration with musicians and the importance of music in his films were explored. Always with an independent spirit, he mentioned that at the beginning he was far removed from the Hollywood system, but working with professional agents gave him opportunities that he would not otherwise have found. “Hollywood is interested in formality because it is interested in controlling projects. If you leave their scheme, they take it is as a sign that it can be difficult to control you”, he said.
Gus Van Sant also shared a glimpse of his creative process with the GIFF audience, such as his process of adapting literary works. This is the case of Drugstore Cowboy, a successful 1989 film based on an autobiographical novel written by James Fogle. It was not the first time that Van Sant would discover the raw material of his stories in literature, nor would it be the last.
Among his influences he mentioned German auteur Werner Herzog, who showed him that the possibilities of cinema went beyond traditional structures.
He also went over the production process behind Good Will Hunting, which was written by then unknown actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. He spoke of the ups and downs during pre-production before he was hired on to the film and how it became one of the most acclaimed films of the 1990s.
With Elephant, Gus Van Sant won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003. This happened almost miraculously, as the director even tried to leave the project in its initial stage, considering it above all an opportunity to support writer JT LeRoy (Laura Albert). The prize in Cannes took him by surprise.
In the last period of this Keynote Conference, Gus Van Sant answered questions from the audience, addressing issues such as his directing of actors (“I try to meet the people I work with, form a friendship and communicate”), or the process behind his latest movie Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot. He also dedicated a few words to the digital revolution, observing that narrative is less and less important and how cinema means something different for new generations.
It was especially emotional when he remembered the late great Robin Williams, who worked with Van Sant in Good Will Hunting (and won an Academy Award for it). He described him as a person of great intelligence and extreme skill for humor who was also capable of the utmost seriousness.
In the end, he said that what attracts him to the stories he tells is usually a character and then the world in which he lives, which preferably should be completely unknown to him. “Sometimes my characters are marginal because that is my own relationship with the world,” he said almost at the end of the conference.
GIFF thanks the audience and this great independent filmmaker for giving us a space to go deeper into his creative process and go over a career that stands out for its brilliance and peculiarity in an increasingly homogeneous world.