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Billy Hayes

Festival Special Guest

 Billy Hayes has been writing, acting, and directing since the book he wrote about his experience in a Turkish prison, Midnight Express, was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1978. Hayes has written the sequel books, Midnight Return, Letters From A Turkish Prison--1970-1975, and numerous screenplays, including Cock & Bull Story, Pamplona, and Kauai.



Hayes directed the critically acclaimed Cock & Bull Story at the Fountainhead Theatre in Los Angeles, garnering numerous 1992 L.A. Drama Critics Circle, L.A. Weekly, and Drama-Logue awards. He directed the feature film version of Cock & Bull Story, which has played in film festivals in Sydney, London, Turin, Rome, New York, and San Francisco among others. Other directing credits include the award-winning The Last Pad (written by William Inge and produced by Amnesty International) in Los Angeles; The Cage in New York City (which he adapted for an all-female cast); and the 1993 production of Washington Square Moves, which the L.A. Weekly awarded Production of the Year honors, and for which the NAACP Theatre Awards honored Hayes with a Best Director nomination.  He staged the critically acclaimed production of Break of Day at Los Angeles’ Lillian Theatre and is a member of the Actors’ Studio West Playwright/Director Unit. He previously directed episodes of the TV series Copper, and produced/directed Angel Food, a documentary about the Project Angel Food delivery program for homebound AIDS patientsAngel Food has been shown in the Dallas, Boston, and Denver Film Festivals.  He has developed and co-produced The Bachelor’s Baby, a movie of the week for CBS, starring Scott Bakula.


         Hayes won a 2006 LA Weekly Best Actor Award for his One-Act performance in Shuffle, Shuffle, Step…a tribute to Samuel Beckett.


         As an artist member of Inside Out, Hayes used theatre skills in his work with both at-risk kids and disturbed, incarcerated patients at Patton State Hospital.  Additionally, Hayes has shared the lessons of his life experience through his work as a mentor to homeless youths at the L.A. Free Clinic. 


         In 2010 the TV series Locked Up Abroad gave Hayes a chance to retell his story in his own words. The overwhelming response to this program led to the one-man show, Riding the Midnight Express with Billy Hayes, which has played in New York, London, Edinburgh, Melbourne and is currently touring around the world…


         The documentary, Midnight Return—the Story of Billy Hayes and Turkey, has recently screened at the Santa Barbara, Newport Beach and Cannes Film Festival…