Elephant is a 2003 drama film edited, written and directed by Gus Van Sant. It takes place in the fictional Watt High School, in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, and chronicles the events surrounding a school shooting, based in part on the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. The film begins a short time before the shooting occurs, following the lives of several characters both in and out of school, who are unaware of what is about to unfold. The film stars mostly new or non-professional actors, including John Robinson, Alex Frost, and Eric Deulen.
Elephant is the second film in Van Sant's "Death Trilogy"—the first is Gerry (2002) and the third Last Days (2005)—all three of which are based on actual events.
Elephant was generally acclaimed by critics and received the Palme d'Or at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, in which Patrice Chéreau was the head of the jury. The film was controversial for its subject matter and allegations of influence on the Red Lake shootings.
Gus Van Sant
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