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Creating a New Legacy for The Animation Show of Shows

The Animation Show of Shows -- dedicated to restoring, preserving and promoting exemplary animated short films with the world -- will be brought to the public for the first time with a new non-profit initiative.

Ron Diamond, curator of The Animation Show of Shows.

Ron Diamond is so passionate about animated shorts that he’s flown one million miles in pursuit of the best. He’s the guy who sees closely guarded projects before anyone else. The man who thought nothing of watching 162 student films over seven hours on a recent Saturday, because “you never know when you’ll see a spark of brilliance.”

Diamond founded Acme Filmworks in 1990, and creates animated commercials for A-list clients with a roster of award-winning animators. He has received Clio and Annie awards, tucked away on a crowded shelf in his Los Angeles studio, as well as nominations for both an Oscar and Emmy awards. For the past 16 years, largely funded out of his own pocket and with honorariums from schools and support from some of the big studios, Diamond has traveled to far-flung animated film festivals to gather the most extraordinary films for a compilation he calls The Animation Show of Shows.

He brings his show to major animation studios like Pixar, Disney. DreamWorks, Blue Sky and Illumination, solely to inspire people who animate for a living with films that he feels demonstrate originality in technique or a brilliantly told story, and sometimes both. And he tours dozens of colleges, looking to inspire animation and art students with newly completed festival films that most would never see. 

But his ultimate dream has always been to get the world to love and understand the artistry and power of an animated short film. “A short film is like a poem,” Diamond says. “When realized with mastery, a single viewing can stay with you your whole life."

This week, Diamond turned his labor of love into a new not-for-profit organization, called, fittingly, The Animation Show of Shows, Inc., a major step that will bring his Animation Show of Shows for the first time to the public through a new distribution system the organization will build for animated short films.

Diamond launched a Kickstarter campaign on June 6 to underwrite his new organization’s mission to preserve, restore and share exemplary animated short films with the world. It will also underwrite a new project that showcases the animators behind the films.

He’s just back from a short trip to St. Petersburg, Russia to produce a documentary about animator Konstantin Bronzit, an Oscar nominee for Lavatory Lovestory, whose newest film, We Can’t Live Without Cosmos, will be on the first public tour. Diamond is preparing a series of films to give context to the animated shorts and tell compelling back stories about the artists. The new project carries of a hefty price tag of more than $40,000 for each film, but he sees this element as a great opportunity to showcase animators who otherwise wouldn’t be known outside the industry.

Through the non-profit, Diamond will also identify and restore more of the important films that have decayed with time and could be lost without immediate intervention. The first film he’s identified is the 1964 film The Hangman, a powerful example of animation as a form of social commentary. 

Earlier preservation efforts of Diamond's Acme Filmworks includes the 1973 Academy Award winning animated short Frank Film by Frank Mouris and early student films by studio directors including Brenda Chapman, David Silverman and Chris Sanders.

“Some of these films are incredible,” Diamond says. “You can see when they were students that they had a spark of brilliance.”

The formation of the non-profit was officially announced on Saturday, June 6, when Diamond was honored by the Animation Workshop at UCLA with the Crystal Anvil Award.

The lineup for this year’s Animation Show of Shows will be announced as they are secured on the Kickstarter page throughout the campaign, which ends on July 2. 

Konstantin Bronzit’s 'We Can’t Live Without Cosmos’ confirmed for the 17th Annual Animation Show of Shows.

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.