Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band

The World Premiere of Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, Daniel Roher’s touching tale of Robertson’s young life and the creation of one of the most enduring groups in the history of popular music, The Band, will be the Opening Night Gala Presentation for the 44th Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, September 5, at Roy Thomson Hall. The premiere marks the first time a Canadian-made documentary opens the Toronto International Film Festival.

The documentary film, directed by Roher (Ghosts of Our Forest), inspired by Robertson’s 2016 memoir, Testimony, tells the moving story of Robertson’s personal journey as he overcame adversity and found camaraderie alongside the four other men who would become his brothers in music, and who together made their mark on music history. 

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, Daniel Roher
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, Daniel Roher

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band blends rare archival footage, photography, iconic songs, and interviews with many of Robertson’s friends and collaborators, including Martin Scorsese, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, Taj Mahal, Dominique Robertson, and Ronnie Hawkins.  

“Robertson’s tale is a remarkable reminder of how vision, ambition, and hard work can empower one’s wildest dreams,” said Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band director Daniel Roher. “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. Opening the Toronto International Film Festival is beyond some wildest dreams of my own and I am thankful for everyone who believed in me.”

“I’m so tremendously honored that the premiere of Once Were Brothers, inspired by my memoir Testimony, will be the opening movie at TIFF this year, in my hometown of Toronto, Ontario, Canada,” said Robertson.

In a career spanning six decades, Robbie Robertson has continued to create as a songwriter, producer, performer, actor, author, and film composer. His raw talent thrust him into the spotlight and put him at the center of a cultural revolution, backing Bob Dylan on his notorious 1966 electric world tour and later collaborating with Dylan on the groundbreaking Basement Tapes, then as a member of The Band, inventing the musical hybrid known as Americana with songs like “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek,” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Of late, Robertson has been working on a new solo album, due this fall. 

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band will stream on Crave in Canada later this year. 

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5 to 15, 2019.

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