|Born||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
Early life and education
David Acomba was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, and attended Bishop Whelan High School in the suburb of Lachine. In the early 1960s, he attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he majored in Film and Television. In 1967, he attended film school at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles where he received a Master of Performing Arts degree.
Career in film
Acomba moved to Toronto in 1969 and began producing and directing specials for Canada’s national network. A musically oriented director, Acomba began in 1970 by directing a television special for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Mariposa: A Folk Festival, with Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell. He then directed the first U.S. television network rock special for PBS (NET), Welcome To The Fillmore East, with Van Morrison, Albert King and The Byrds.
In 1973, he won the Canadian Film Award for Best Direction for his feature film Slipstream, about a popular disk jockey’s struggle for personal and professional integrity, with music by Eric Clapton and Van Morrison. In the autumn of 1974, he was asked to film George Harrison's North American Dark Horse Tour. Because Harrison had lost his voice prior to the tour and never fully regained it, the film was not released.
In 1976, Acomba was selected to direct the Star Wars Holiday Special for CBS. George Lucas, Acomba's film school classmate, could not be involved with the project on a day-to-day basis. CBS executive producers Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion hired television producers who clashed creatively with Lucas and Acomba. Acomba ultimately left the production, a decision Lucas supported.
In 1980, he directed the feature-length performance film Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave. The movie was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the London Film Festival, Filmex in Los Angeles, and featured on HBO.
In the early 1980s, Acomba pioneered television skating specials with Strawberry Ice for the CBC. The format, which combined personal stories with musical performances and Olympic level skating, won many awards and was shown in over 45 countries. This success led to his producing and directing the Magic Skates special for ABC.
In 1985, he began to work in comedy with Four on the Floor, a sketch series for the CBC also shown on Showtime and the BBC, as well as in over 20 other countries. His other comedy programmes in the late eighties included a special for Showtime with Andrea Martin and a Second City pilot for CBS late night with, among others, Mike Myers. In the early nineties, Acomba directed three seasons of the Canadian comedy series CODCO starring Andy Jones, Tommy Sexton, Mary Walsh, Cathy Jones and Greg Malone.
Interested in utilizing television to promote awareness of the environment, Acomba directed and co-produced two seasons of the documentary ecology series Down To Earth, which featured remarkable Canadians and the landscapes that inspire them.
In 2003, Acomba directed the performance documentary A Marriage In Music featuring concert pianist Anton Kuerti and cellist Kristine Boygo for CBC’s premier arts program, Opening Night. The Globe & Mail reported that the work was “artfully told and a joy to watch”.
In 2007, 33 years after initial filming, Acomba revisited his original director’s cut of George Harrison’s 1974 Dark Horse Tour with Billy Preston, Tom Scott and Ravi Shankar. This new cut is a portrait of the first Beatle to tour North America on his own. The film captures Harrison’s prescient world music vision as he brought together the eastern music of Ravi Shankar with western rock and jazz. The movie, which has never been screened publicly, includes cameo appearances by John Lennon and Paul McCartney as well as rock promoter Bill Graham. This new director’s version has been placed in the Harrison archive.
Acomba met his wife Sharon Keogh, a Canadian radio and television producer, in 1970. In 1999, they purchased the historic Catharine Parr Traill Mount Ararat property outside Toronto, where they currently live.
Awards and honors
Acomba's dramatic films have been shown at the London, Los Angeles and Toronto film festivals. In Canada he received awards for Best Director at the Canadian Film Awards and the Yorkton Film Festival. In the US, he has received the Golden Gate Award for Best Entertainment Program, an International Emmy and several Ace nominations. Acomba has been invited to lecture at York University, Trent University and Ryerson University.
David Acomba is founder and formerly the Executive Director of the All-Canadian Jazz Festival Port Hope in Port Hope, Ontario. In 2006, he and his wife began working on the establishment of a Catharine Parr Traill Land Trust. Their efforts are concerned with land restoration on the Mount Ararat homestead outside Gore's Landing, Ontario and the promotion of Mrs. Traill’s important early Canadian botanical work.
- [dead link]"Film Society of Lincoln Center". Retrieved October 6, 2012.
- "Fresh and innovative - Welcome To The Fillmore East Review". The New York Times. October 11, 1970.
- "David Acomba". IMDb. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- "David Acomba". The New York Times. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- "MARRIAGE IN MUSIC (A)". Telefilm Canada. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- "Last Chapter wows them in Quebec". Toronto Star. Mar 15, 2002.
- "Opening Night Review". The Globe and Mail. January 4, 2003.
- Acomba, David; Gerry, Flahive. ANTON & the PIANO. YouTube. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- "Credits and Kudos". All-Canadian Jazz Festival Port Hope. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- "Catharine Parr Traill and Mount Ararat". David Acomba. Retrieved July 2, 2014.