William Farley is an American film director, based in San Francisco. He directed Whoopi Goldberg in her first screen role, in the ensemble piece Citizen : I'm Not Losing My Mind, I'm Giving It Away (1981-2).
William Farley was raised in Beverly, Massachusetts, on Boston's south shore in a working-class family. His early life included training as a commercial artist and as a sculptor. Drafted by the U.S. Army, Farley worked as an illustrator for an intelligence unit.
Mr. Farley's first film was made in 1970. As a graduate student majoring in sculpture he took a class on the history of film. At the end of the semester he had the choice to either write a paper about the films he saw or make a film. The film was a hit on the film festival circuit and Farley was hooked. When he received his MFA a year and a half later he had more credits in film making than sculpture.
His many short films and documentaries have won numerous awards and have been broadcast and screened at venues around the world, including the Sundance, Berlin, Chicago, Sydney and New York Film Festivals.
His first feature film, Citizen : I'm Not Losing My Mind, I'm Giving It Away (film)|Citizen : I'm Not Losing My Mind, I'm Giving It Away, made on credit cards, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1983. The film is an anarchic look at society as a group of anonymous youths roam the San Francisco cityscape. Featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 'Citizen' included, among other West-Coast performance artists, playwright John O'Keefe and Whoopi Goldberg in her first screen performance.
William Farley directed his second feature, Of Men and Angels, from a screenplay he co-wrote, starring Theresa Saldana and John Molloy of Dublin's Abbey Theatre. The film tells the story of three strong-willed individuals who struggle for control of their own dreams and each other's. In 1989, Of Men and Angels premiered in the dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival.
Farley's next film was broke, a meditation on street people and showed in over a dozen film festivals in the United States and Europe. In 1998, the Sundance Film Festival screened Mr. Farley's poignant short film, Sea Space.
In the spring of 2001, he co-directed The Old Spaghetti Factory, a documentary about the last bohemian nightclub in San Francisco's North Beach. It was shown on PBS in over one hundred U.S. cities. This film was a collaboration between Mr. Farley, Mal and Sandra Sharpe.