Producer Ron Diamond’s Animation Show of Shows, one of the industry’s most respected annual showcases, has moved into a new era with the establishing of The Animation Show of Shows, Inc. as a non-profit organisation. In keeping with the spirit of the event itself, the organisation’s mission is to restore, preserve and promote animated shorts, something we at Skwigly can firmly get behind. For the past sixteen years, Ron – also the founder of Acme Filmworks – has curated The Animation Show of Shows program, a selection of hand-picked highlights from each year’s crop of exceptional animated shorts shown around the world.
I started the Show of Shows when I realised, after a number of years of going to film festivals, that my peers in Hollywood were not seeing many of the great short films. Back in the 1980s I produced four editions (19th-22nd) of the International Tournée of Animation which was a touring collection of animated shorts that used to play in the United States. This was in the 80s and I had very close relationships with people like Peter Schneider who was president of Disney for quite a long time during their second renaissance. They were always very receptive to seeing shorts, so around the late-90s I was very interested in sharing short films, especially since I was seeing such beautiful works.
The first film I showed was Mark Baker’s film Jolly Roger, just one film, and it got a really positive reaction. The next year I had four films in my programme, all of them were from the National Film Board of Canada and it turned out three of them ended up getting Oscar nominations. With the NFB’s encouragement and with the response I was getting at the studios I thought Well, I’ll do more of this! So this year I’ve presented the 16th Animation Show of Shows 58 times.
When I started there was no YouTube, now there is but I want people to see the films the way they were intended to be seen, in a theatre.
In prior editions these have included work from such established animation talent as Michael Dudok de Wit, Chris Landreth, Felix Massie, Torill Kove, Bill Plympton, Adam Elliot, Matt Walker, and John Kahrs to name a few. The program has been screened at major animation studios, universities and film festivals internationally. Diamond’s reputation as having a finely-tuned eye for shorts has also stood him in good stead at major studios, with Disney’s Feast and Pixar’s Lava both included in recent screenings.
Both studios give me support, which is very helpful in covering some of the costs. It’s really been a labour of love and so now it’s time to turn it into an economic thing, and I felt that setting up the non-proft was really the way to go. I don’t need to make money, I just don’t want to lose money, that’s really the issue.
To coincide with The Animation Show of Shows’ new non-profit identity, The organisation recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to help make the 17th annual Animation Show of Shows a reality, while beginning their proposed restoration work – starting with Les Goldman and Paul Julian’s Hangman (1964) – through Acme Filmworks.
After five years of investigating where the source elements were, I finally was invited by the Library of Congress after they admitted that they couldn’t actually do anything for me in terms of locating one can of negative that was on one of twenty pallets of film elements, so that was many rolls of film that I had to go through. I reached out to faculty in the greater Washington DC area and said “Tell your students if they want to learn about film join me at the Library of Congress and we’ll get them to help find those elements”. And they did!
Hangman (Dirs. Les Goldman & Paul Julian) – due to be remastered as part of the Animation Show of Shows
So it’s important to me to have these films, and I have to say this particular film inspired me – I saw it in school as a child, hadn’t seen it since until it was recommended to me by a dear friend and animation historian Giannalberto Bendazzi. If anything I would dedicate this to him for all the great work that he’s done, as well of course to the director, designer and animator of the film Paul Julian who I’d like to be recognised for his great work. His daughter Alison, who’s an artist, painted on the film back in 1964 when she was very young, she’s going to work with me in matching the colours the way they were originally intended. We’ll make a 35mm negative and prints that will be stored, one at the Library of Congress and one at the Academy Film Archive so that they can be loaned to festivals and such around the world, and we’ll have a new HD master of it people will be able to see.
This year’s full Animation Show of Shows lineup will be revealed over the course of the campaign until July 2nd, with the first included film confirmed as Konstantin Bronzit’s We Can’t Live Without Cosmos.
It is such a perfect film for the Show of Shows. It’s the kind of film you want to see repeatedly, there’s a lot going on in it. It’s a film about loneliness and relationships couched in a very funny way, but it takes a very dark turn. Not ‘dark’ in a horrible way but it’s a very emotional journey that we go through about this relationship of two characters. The film is exquisitely produced, that’s always a criteria of mine is that the films generally have a high level of artistry. The idea is to show a film that is both artfully created but also one that is well-told, and the timing on this film is extraordinary.
To learn more about The Animation Show of Shows visit kickstartASOS.com