Gus Van Sant

Gus Van Sant is an American film director. His works include “My Own Private Idaho”, “Good Will Hunt

1 Does art make a difference?

It makes a difference in people’s daily perceptions. Art takes so many forms. A politician running for office is a work of art.

2 Should politics and art mix?

If you get away from thinking of art as a painting in a frame, art can be politics, not just mixed with politics. A beautifully written political proposition could be considered art in the same way as a novel.

3 Is your work for the many or for the few?

Working in film, even if you are trying to make yourself happy with something that excites you because it is a new thought or idea, you don’t want it to go sailing over the heads of the larger group. Although some of the things I have done went sailing a couple of times.

4 If you were world leader, what would be your first law?

I would try to make less law a law. But I am not really capable of thinking like a world leader – it seems like the law is used in such an unlawful way that it should not be there in the first place.

5 Who would be your top advisers?

Scott Green (a taxi driver here in Portland, already an adviser); Lance Black (a screenwriter for the TV show Big Love and Milk, a screenplay about Harvey Milk, the San Francisco gay politician); and Cleve Jones, one of Harvey Milk’s advisers and activists during the 1970s.

6 What, if anything, would you censor?

Kind of like the law question, I would censor the censors.

7 If you had to banish one public figure, who would it be?

Public figures are already kind of banished.

8 What are the rules that you live by?

It would be good for all of us to try and do our best to relieve human suffering. It might extend to the suffering of animals or plants.

9 Do you love your country?

I only know my country, and even then it surprises me. I have to think; wow, I don’t even really know it very well. To know it is to love it.

10 Are we all doomed?

In one way or another, there will be change. Change can be doom, but we are all waiting for change.

This article first appeared in the 10 December 2007 issue of the New Statesman, How New Labour turned toxic