Celebrated Filmmaker Eli Hayes Dies at 26

eli hayes dead

Facebook/Eli Hayes Eli Hayes pictured on his Facebook page in January 2020. The caption for this picture read, "Just trying to make it to tomorrow."

Eli Hayes, the celebrated filmmaker and Letterboxd user, has died at the age of 26, according to a post on Letterboxd.

Hayes’ death was confirmed in a post that read:

A friend to this community. A friend to fellow filmmakers. As passionate a cinephile as there ever was. A unique and powerful filmmaker, who could imbue an image with emotion without trying. Rest in peace, my friend.

Hayes’ cause of death has not been made public. Capone director Josh Trank was among those who paid tribute to Hayes on Twitter writing:

Rest In Peace, Eli Hayes. I’m shattered to have missed the honor to engage with you, your art, your writing & your endless passion for cinema while you were here.

Your spirit stays to guide and inspire those who knew you, and those of us discovering you now and in the future.

Letterboxd is a social media service that allows lovers of movies to share their views and opinions.

Hayes’ Love of Movies Came Afte Viewing the Films of Andrei Tarkowsky & Chantal Akerman

Eli Hayes Facebook page

Facebook/Eli Hayes

According to Hayes’ LinkedIn page, he was from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a graduate of Ithaca College, where he majored in Psychology and Creative Writing, class of 2016. Following that, Hayes attained a master’s degree in 2017 in Film & Creative Media at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Hayes’ IMDb page says that he became passionate about movies after seeing the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Chantal Akerman at an “early age.”

A Reddit thread dedicated to Hayes’ memory has been set up. The original poster of the thread wrote about Hayes’ presence on Letterboxd saying, “[Hayes] was probably the most genuinely kind person on that site and was a talented filmmaker in his own right.”

Hayes Said in 2015: ‘My Life Is a Big Film Course’

Hayes’ IMDb page goes on to say that he produced his first short movies, Nobody and Dancing With Shadows, while he was a senior at high school. Following high school, Hayes founded his own production company, Hazel Eye Productions, while he was enrolled at Ithaca College. During his time at Ithaca College, Hayes helped to set up a society for underappreciated movies. Hayes told The Daily Ithacan in 2015, “My life is a big film course. I thought psychology would be great so I could better understand my actors and my scripts.”

Hayes’ page adds that in addition to being widely shown in the U.S., his movies have been shown at film festivals in France and China. The last sentence on the profile says Hayes was the project manager for the Nashville Film Institute. On his Facebook page, Hayes says he left that role in 2019 and at the time of his death was working at the Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee.

Hayes Released His Latest Work, A Florida Melancholy, in March 2020

Hayes has 40 credits as a producer and 41 credits as a director listed on his IMDb page. Hayes released his latest work, A Florida Melancholy, in March 2020. In releasing the film, Hayes tweeted:

Finally released my baby into the world. I figured, now that I’m reaching the end of the 3rd film in the trilogy, it’s time to release the 1st, A Florida Melancholy. I don’t charge $$ to watch my films, so it can be viewed on both Vimeo/Youtube for free.

Hayes was last active on his Twitter page on May 21.

A description of A Florida Melancholy from Hayes’ Letterboxd page says that he battled depression for “his entire life.” The description goes on to say that Hayes was enduring a hard time in the summer of 2018 when he went to Tallahassee, Florida, for a job interview. The description went on:

While in Florida, the despondency grew more severe and eventually took complete control of his psychological well-being.

Over the course of the summer, good days would occur sparsely and sporadically; on these days, Hayes would bring his camera outside to film the beauty of his environment, despite knowing full well that the dejection would soon return.

The film is also described as a “landscape film of emotional survival” that Hayes made while enduring the “darkest season of his life.”

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