'Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson And The Band' To Debut At TIFF


A feature documentary about classic rock act The Band will open the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September.

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, directed by Daniel Roher, is the first doc ever chosen for the festival’s first night. It will screen Sept. 5 at Roy Thomson Hall.

“Robertson’s tale is a remarkable reminder of how vision, ambition, and hard work can empower one’s wildest dream,” Roher said, in a release. “Robbie took a chance on me, and I will be forever grateful that he rolled the dice on a kid from Toronto to helm his story.”

TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey, in a release, called Robertson a hometown hero. “From his early years in this city, to the inspiration he took from life on the Six Nations reserve, to the impact he’s had on generations of music lovers, Robertson emerges in Roher’s film as a truly Canadian-made superstar.”

Robertson formed The Band with fellow Canadians Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel as well as Arkansas native Levon Helm. They released 10 studio albums between 1968 and 1998 that spawned hits like “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “Don’t Do It.”

The group was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1989, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, and on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2014. The Band was also awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Once Were Brothers features rare archival footage and photographs, plenty of music, and interviews with artists like Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Peter Gabriel, Van Morrison and Ronnie Hawkins.

TIFF has previously hosted music documentaries like Lady Gaga: Five Foot Two and The Tragically Hip's Long Time Running. After its TIFF debut, Once Were Brothers will stream on Crave (part of Bell Media, parent company of this website).