Gus Van Sant: Happy Milk Came Out AFTER Prop 8

Sean Penn with Gus Van Sant at the 18th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards on Tuesday night

QUEERTY REPORTS — “A new step” in gay cinema is how director Gus Van Sant described his Harvey Milk biopic last night at a Q&A following a screening at the the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Queerty attended, if only to see if Van Sant was as charmingly handsome as he seemed in his Entourage cameo. (Answer: He most certainly is.) Fielding a handful of questions after Milk‘s credits rolled, Van Sant was lauded by the audience. A 25-year-old blonde New York transplant, who says he is still harassed daily, even in New York, and saw new hope in the film, gave the director a tearful “thank you.” An executive from the Hetrick-Martin Institute, home to New York’s gay-friendly Harvey Milk High School, attended with some of his students, and commended Van Sant for perfectly capturing Milk’s “legacy.” And of course, somebody asked the director how he felt the film could have impacted Proposition 8, if only it came out before the election. And that’s where he surprised us:

Focus Features and Van Sant could’ve rushed the film out before California’s Proposition 8 vote, the director said, but they didn’t even hear about the measure until July, and at that point it wasn’t polling well and didn’t have much support, so there wasn’t reason to think the movie would need to impact the outcome. (He also didn’t want to put Milk out before Prop. 8 in case the movie sucked and would’ve helped pass Prop. 8, he joked.)

But now that the vote is over, Prop. 8 passed, and Milk came out a month later, how does Van Sant feel?

Actually, he said, he’s happy about Milk‘s post-election timing, because seeing the film will make people “wise up” to gay civil rights, which will do more than passing “just one proposition.”

Not sure we entirely agree with that sentiment, but that’s just poetic license.