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David Acomba is a television and film producer/director. His television programs have been featured on CBS, ABC, PBS, CBC, CTV, BBC, Channel 4, Showtime and HBO.
David Acomba was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, attending Bishop Whelan High School in the suburb of Lachine. In the early sixties 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 in Los Angeles where he received a Master of Performing Arts degree.
He moved to Toronto in 1969 where he quickly began to produce and direct specials for Canada’s national network. In 1970 he met his wife, Sharon Keogh, a Canadian radio and television producer. During subsequent years, using Toronto as a base, he worked in New York and Los Angeles. In 1999 David and Sharon purchased the historic Catharine Parr Traill Mount Ararat property outside Toronto where they currently live.
A musically oriented director, David 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. “Fresh and innovative”- New York Times
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 fall of 1974, he was asked by George Harrison to film his North American Dark Horse Tour. Because George 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 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. Unfortunately, CBS executive producers Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion hired television producers who proved to have little creatively in common with David, or George. David chose to leave 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 eighties Acomba, who can’t skate himself, 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 markets. This led to his producing and directing the Magic Skates special for ABC, executive produced by Mace Newfeld.
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 additional markets worldwide. Other comedy programs 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 & Greg Malone.
Interested in utilizing the television medium to promote awareness of the environment, David 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, David 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, David revisited his original director’s cut of the feature-length documentary of George Harrison’s 1974 Dark Horse Tour with Billy Preston, Tom Scott & Ravi Shankar. The new cut of the footage is a revealing portrait of the first Beatle to tour North America on his own. The film captures George’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 haunting, George never loses his sense of humour and the film becomes an intimate witness to his spiritual journey through music - at a very tough time in his life. The movie, which has never been screened publicly, includes cameo appearances by John Lennon and Paul McCartney as well as the legendary rock promoter Bill Graham. This new director’s version has been placed in the Harrison archive.
In 2008, he wrote and directed the short film ANTON & the PIANO for the National Film Board of Canada.
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 U.S. 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 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 of the Traills’ Mount Ararat homestead outside Gore’s Landing, Ontario and promote Mrs. Traill’s important early Canadian botanical work.