Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hamilton Film Festival Rallies Around Hospitalized Filmmaker

Everything was going so well for Stephen Hayes. His recent directorial debut Lucky 7 had been shopped at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival and he was getting ready to move into a newly purchased condominium in Hamilton, Ontario.

But everything changed September 7 when the 50-year-old filmmaker was involved, as a pedestrian, in an extremely unfortunate car accident. The driver of a Honda vehicle evading attempts by local police to pull them over hit another Kia car, which careened into a bus shelter and then Hayes.

As a result, the writer-director lost 25% of his eyesight and one of his legs, amputated above the knee. The accident has put Hayes in immediate, dire financial straights as it forced him to forego his day-jobs livelihood and has left him looking at a hospital stay that will likely last through the end of 2013.

Rallying to the cause, the local community came together for a fundraiser encore-screening of Hayes' film noir Thursday at the Hamilton Film Festival. As one might expect, the event at the Staircase Theatre was sold out:

Hayes recently told a CBC reporter that he has tried to do some writing in hospital but so far the pain is still too much:

"Your whole life changes. You’re not going to work on Monday morning.” Hayes is a long-time fixture not only in the Hamilton arts scene, but in Ontario's film and television industry.
He’s been a crew member on numerous productions, including The Vow, La Femme Nikita, Mama and Cinderella Man. Locally, he’s been a juror for the Hamilton Film Festival and was long-time host of the CFMU radio show Soundtrack, which featured music from film scores and interviews with local composers.

In an odd twist, the Steven Spielberg produced ABC-TV series Lucky 7 debuted a few weeks after Hayes was hit (September 24) and was canceled very soon thereafter. Best wishes to Hayes as he learns to cope with and adapt to this extremely challenging new chapter in his life.

Update - 11/22/13: The festival screening raised about $6,000. Meanwhile, a special investigation by the Hamilton Police has concluded that pursuing officers were not to blame for the September 7th crash.

[Lucky 7]

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