MILK is the true life story of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), a middle-aged New Yorker who, after moving to San Francisco, became a Gay Rights activist and city politician. Supported and surrounded by fellow activists Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch) and Scott Smith (James Franco), he was elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors on his third attempt in 1977, making him the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in America. The following year, both he and the city’s mayor, George Moscone, were shot to death by former city supervisor, Dan White (Josh Brolin).
Harvey Milk had been the subject of several books and the Academy Award-winning documentary feature, The Times of Harvey Milk (1984); but MILK (2008) is the first fictional feature to explore private aspects of the man’s personal life and career.
The film was directed by Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho, Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester) on location in San Francisco and is the first produced feature screenplay by Dustin Lance Black. Many of Harvey Milk’s real-life surviving friends and former associates participated in the making of this film, several appearing on camera.
MILK was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, and earned Sean Penn an Oscar for Best Actor, and Dustin Lance Black for Best Screenplay.
Focus Features released the film and it is now available on DVD.