Asifa-Hollywood Donates $20k to Academy Help Preserve Williams’ “Thief/Cobbler” Art – Animation Scoop

Asifa-Hollywood Donates $20k to Academy Help Preserve Williams’ “Thief/Cobbler” Art

ASIFA-Hollywood has donated $20k to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to assist with the curation and documentation of a major collection of original production artwork, donated by Miramax, of work created for Richard Williams’ production of The Thief and the Cobbler. The collection consists of thousands of hand-painted cels, pencil animation and water color backgrounds, and covers the course of more than 20 years work.

While the film was eventually finished under the auspices of a completion bond company, much of this material was removed from Williams’ studio and cut from the theatrical release. The two decades of its production employed some of the world’s best animation artists, and the film serves as an important bridge between two generations of animators. The hope is to have the collection available to researchers in the New Year.


“Over the years, the Motion Picture Academy has been a wonderful partner for us,” said Frank Gladstone, ASIFA’s Executive Director. “Much of our own ASIFA-Hollywood Archive is housed there, so it was gratifying when the Academy asked for our support and even more gratifying when our entire executive board voted unanimously to provide the funds.”

“I had the rare privilege of viewing The Thief & The Cobbler’s gorgeous hand-crafted artwork in person at Williams London Studio, and can state unequivocally that its magnificence has no rival in the history of animation,” said Sue Shakespeare, member of the ASIFA Board of Directors and President, Creative Capers Entertainment, Inc. “ASIFA is thrilled to be able to support the Academy in this important mission.”

“Williams’ vision for, and execution of, the animation in The Thief and The Cobbler stands as one of the greatest achievements in the history of classic hand-drawn animation,” says Jerry Beck, President of ASIFA-Hollywood. “It is our honor to assist the Academy in preserving this important work for future generations to study and enjoy.”

Today, ASIFA-Hollywood is the largest chapter of the international organization ASIFA (Association Internationale du Film d’Animation), and supports a wide range of animation activities and preservation efforts through its membership. Current initiatives include the Animation Archive, Animation Aid Foundation, film preservation, the Animation Educators Forum, the Animation Center building initiative, special events, screenings and animation festival support.

ASIFA-Hollywood also produces the annual Annie Awards™, honoring the best in animation. The 44th Annual Annie Awards is set for Saturday, February 4, 2017. For more information on ASIFA-Hollywood, please visit

Jerry Beck

Jerry Beck

Writer, cartoon producer and author of more than 15 books on animation history. A former studio exec with Nickelodeon and Disney; currently on the faculty at both CalArts in Valencia and Woodbury University in Burbank.
Jerry Beck
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  • Garrett Gilchrist

    In June of 2015 I was approached by employees of Miramax. They told me they were in possession of a “very large amount of animation cells and materials for this title,” and no longer held the rights. They told me they were “interested in providing this material back to the proper rights holder so that it can be cared for in the manner that it deserves.”

    I suggested they seek out Richard Williams directly. They had had difficulty making contact with him, but were able to do so with a little help. I’m glad to see that this has been the eventual happy result.

  • Marc Hendry

    I thought most of the artwork was lost forever, so this is great news to read. I’d love to see some kind of coffee table book with this film’s artwork(unlikely due to the actual film’s scarcity, I know). And of course there’s loads of beautiful artwork produced at his studio for commercials, which is largely forgotten aside from Garrett’s archival efforts