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|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
He moved to Toronto in 1969 and began producing and directing specials for Canada’s national network. During subsequent years, using Toronto as a base, he worked in New York and Los Angeles.
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 by George Harrison to film his 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, David was selected to direct the Star Wars Holiday Special for CBS. George Lucas, a classmate of David’s at U. S. C. film school, 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 proved to have little creatively in common with Acomba or Lucas. Acomba left the production, a decision supported by Lucas.
In 1980, he directed the feature-length performance film Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave. The movie was selected for showing at the Toronto International Film Festival, the London Film Festival, Filmex in Los Angeles and featured on HBO.
In the early 1980s Acomba, who cannot skate, pioneered skating specials on television with the production of Strawberry Ice for the CBC. The format, which combined story with musical performances and Olympic level skating, won many awards and was shown in over 45 countries. This led to his producing and directing the Magic Skates special for ABC.
In 1985, he began his work in comedy with Four on the Floor, a sketch series produced for the CBC and shown on Showtime, the BBC as well as over 20 other countries. 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 David directed three seasons of the legendary Canadian comedy series CODCO starring Andy Jones, Tommy Sexton, Mary Walsh, Cathy Jones and Greg Malone.
Interested in utilizing the television medium to promote awareness of the environment, Acomba directed and co-produced two seasons of the documentary ecology series Down To Earth featuring remarkable Canadians and the landscapes that inspire them. “This great ecology series is the one to catch”- Toronto Star.
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. “Artfully told and a joy to watch”- The Globe & Mail.
In 2007, 33 years after filming the project, Acomba revisited his original director’s cut of the feature-length documentary of George Harrison’s 1974 Dark Horse Tour with Billy Preston, Tom Scott and Ravi Shankar. The new cut of the footage 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 brings together the eastern music of Ravi Shankar with western rock/jazz. Although the task of performing 49 concerts in about as many days, mostly without a full voice, is sometimes daunting, Harrison never loses his sense of humour and the film becomes an intimate witness to his spiritual journey through music. The movie, which has never been screened publicly, includes cameo appearances by John Lennon and Paul McCartney as well as the rock promoter Bill Graham. This new director’s version has been placed in the Harrison archive.
David 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
His dramatic films have been invited to the London, Los Angeles and Toronto film festivals, and in Canada he has received 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. As well, David has been invited to lecture at York University, Trent University and Ryerson University.
David Acomba is Founder (2001) and past Executive Director of the All-Canadian Jazz Festival Port Hope in Port Hope, Ontario. In 2006, he and his wife, Sharon Keogh, began working on the establishment of a Catharine Parr Traill Land Trust. Their efforts are concerned with land restoration on the Traills’ 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.