‘Elephant’ strikes drama

Van Sant pic stirs emotions at fest screening

Gus Van Sant’s dramatic rendering of high school violence at Columbine struck a nerve with its New York film fest debut, as evidenced by the passionate discussion following Friday’s “Elephant” unspooling.

“I originally wanted to make a film and have it air on TV a month after the incident,” Van Sant told Daily Variety. “Of course, that wasn’t possible. But this was really a reaction to journalistic coverage of the event.

“There are no dramatic voices in journalism, but dramatic representations can also be investigative and I wanted the film to reflect that,” added the director.

A party at uptown Italian eaterie Gabriel’s followed. On hand: producer Dany Wolf, exec producers Diane Keaton and Bill Robinson, cinematographer Harris Savides, HBO Films’ Colin Callender and New Line’s Michael Lynne, pic’s cast members John Robinson, Kristen Hicks, Bennie Dixon and Nathan Tyson — all high-schoolers before cameras for the first time — as well as Timothy Bottoms and Matt Malloy.

Guests included director Darren Aronofsky and thesps Gael Garcia Bernal, Carol Kane and Michael Pitt, the latter of whom is strongly tipped to star in Van Sant’s next project.

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