Get ready for two big firsts at the year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band has been selected as the opening night gala film, marking the first time a Canadian documentary will open TIFF and it’s Crave’s first big splash at the fest.
The music doc follows the tradition of powerful music documentaries like recent Bell Media Studios projects, The Tragically Hip’s Long Time Running, Neil Young: Home Town and most recently, David Foster: Off the Record.
It seems a herculean task to pack a six-decade career like Robertson’s—involving world tours, A-list collaborations, film scoring, TV appearances, a book and the not-so-small achievement of co-founding the music genre known as “Americana”—into one documentary, but somehow, director Daniel Roher is doing it. The 25-year-old Canadian has been nominated for two Canadian Screen Awards (Survivours Rowe, Sourtoe: The Story of the Sorry Cannibal) and has some pretty impressive support with the likes of Martin Scorsese (a long-time Robertson collaborator who directed The Band’s swan song, The Last Waltz), Brian Grazer and Ron Howard and Bell Media president Randy Lennox who serve as the film’s executive producers.
“Robbie is Canadian and really wanted to partner with a Canadian company,” said Lennox. “We’re very proud to be one of the Canadian partnering companies with him. Martin Scorsese is involved, Ron Howard—opening night is going to be amazing.”
Once Were Brothers is inspired by Robertson’s 2016 memoir Testimony, which documents the musician’s life and career from his origins in Toronto, to the slow formation of The Band, iconic tour with Bob Dylan in 1966 and epic 1976 farewell tour as he bid adieu to The Band.
“I am so honoured that my documentary, Once Were Brothers, was chosen to open the Toronto International Film Festival, in my hometown. I am so thrilled.” Robertson told etalk.
The doc will include a variety of archival footage and songs as well as interviews with Robertson’s closest friends and collaborators including Scorsese, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and Peter Gabriel.
The Crave Original Documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band will stream exclusively on Crave later this year.
The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5-15, 2019.