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Gus Green Van Sant Jr. (born July 24, 1952) is an American film director, screenwriter, painter, photographer, musician, and author who has earned acclaim as both an independent and mainstream filmmaker. His films typically deal with themes of marginalized subcultures, in particular homosexuality; as such, Van Sant is considered one of the most prominent auteurs of the New Queer Cinema movement. Van Sant's early career was devoted to directing television commercials in the Pacific Northwest. He made his feature-length cinematic directorial debut with Mala Noche (1985). His second feature Drugstore Cowboy (1989) was highly acclaimed, and earned Van Sant screenwriting awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and New York Film Critics Circle and the award for Best Director from the National Society of Film Critics. His following film, My Own Private Idaho (1991), was similarly praised, as was the black comedy To Die For (1995), the drama Good Will Hunting (1997), and the biographical film Milk (2008); for the latter two, Van Sant was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and both films received Best Picture nominations.

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