‘Once Were Brothers’ Becomes First Canadian Doc to Open TIFF


By Pat Mullen

History has been made! The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) announced today that the documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band will serve as the opening night gala for this year’s festival. This event marks the first time that a Canadian documentary has been tapped for the high profile opening night slot. The film kicks off TIFF on September 5. TIFF previously opened with a documentary with Davis Guggenheim’s U2 doc From the Sky Down in 2011.

Once Were Brothers is a rock n roll celebration of a Canadian artist who changed the course of music history. The film features new interviews with Robertson as he reflects upon six decades in the industry, along with a soundtrack that defined a generation, extensive archival material, and conversations with a who’s who of musical greats. The doc is a major event for the Toronto film scene with local director Daniel Roher (Finding Fukue) and produced by Peter Raymont, who marks 40 years of his production company White Pine Pictures with the doc, behind the camera. The film includes executive producer credits for Oscar winners Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, and Brian Grazer.

“This is one of Toronto’s great stories of a hometown hero,” said Bailey, Artistic Director & Co-Head of TIFF, in a statement from the festival. “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. In our first year as TIFF’s Co-Heads, Joana and I are thrilled to open the Festival with a Canadian story that speaks to the world.”

“I’m so tremendously honoured 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,” added Robertson.

“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, in a statement. “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.”

Once Were Brothers will debut later this year on Crave after its festival run.

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