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People in Film | Gus Van Sant
Updated May 26, 2010
Gus Van Sant | An American Filmmaker
Co-written by Matt Damon and John Krasinksi, PROMISED LAND tells the story of a small American town struggling with itself, being offered hard cash for drilling rights by a natural gas rep and his assistant (played by Matt Damon and Frances McDormand) while, at the same time, being challenged to do better by a mysterious eco-activist (John Krasinski), who suddenly appears in town. For Gus Van Sant, who over the last few decades has focused on unique and powerful, often untold, American stories, the subject matter was very attractive. “America is a big place and we are all part of it, so it’s hard to really get a grasp on our identity sometimes," Van Sant commented, “What I loved about John and Matt’s screenplay is that they tackled big issues but with a lot of humor and humility. It’s a story about real people, with all their foibles as well as their greatness.” Understanding perfectly the wondrous imperfection of his characters defines Van Sant’s filmmaker, as does the way such imperfect people come together to form friendships, relationships and communities. In his filmmaking, Van Sant not only showcases new talent that he wants to share – like, for example, his use of songs by the band Milk Carton Kids in PROMISED LAND –– but also creates a community of creative people he continually works with. PROMSIED LAND reunites him, for example, with Matt Damon, with whom he’d previously directed in Good Will Hunting and collaborated with on Gerry. “When you work together you become friends and you wonder what else you can do together again and Matt and I became friends,” Van Sant told Movieline. If Van Sant often returns to the need for community in America, as he does so poignantly in PROMISED LAND, one suspects that he recreates that community in the cast and crew he works with on each film.