×

Robbie Robertson Documentary ‘Once Were Brothers’ to Open Toronto Film Festival

“Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band” will rock the opening night of the Toronto International Film Festival.

The documentary recounts the story of one of Canada’s musical legends — a man who served as both lead guitarist and primary songwriter on a group that introduced the likes of “The Weight” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” into the pop culture lexicon. “Once Were Brothers” will have its world premiere at the festival. The gala presentation will be on Thursday, Sept. 5, at Roy Thomson Hall.

It’s the first time a Canadian-made documentary will open the festival. The track record of opening night films at Toronto is a spotty one. Last year, the festival got things started with Netflix’s “Outlaw King,” a period drama about Robert the Bruce that drew a muted response. Other openers, like the critically derided “The Fifth Estate” and the box office duds “Borg vs McEnroe” and “Demolition,” failed to generate much heat after kicking off the festival. To be fair, Toronto has also gotten things started with winners, such as “Looper” and “The Sweet Hereafter” over the course of its four decades.

“Once Were Brothers” is directed by Daniel Roher (“Ghosts of Our Forest”) and was inspired by Robertson’s 2016 memoir. The movie features interviews with the likes of Martin Scorsese, the legendary director who shot The Band’s 1976 performance at the Winterland Ballroom for “The Last Waltz,” along with musical giants such as Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Taj Mahal, and Ronnie Hawkins.

“This is one of Toronto’s great stories of a hometown hero,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s artistic director and co-head. “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.”

The Toronto Film Festival is a key launching pad for awards season releases. Past Oscar winners such as “The Green Book” and “The Shape of Water” have screened at the Canadian festival, emerging as Oscar frontrunners. Next week, the festival will unveil the movies that will show as part of its 44th edition.

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

  • Tanya Tucker Finds Fresh Footing With

    Album Review: Tanya Tucker's 'While I'm Livin''

    Before there was a name and a place for it, an “outlaw” was what Tanya Tucker was in the years following her gentle country smash with the gospel lilt, “Delta Dawn,” in 1972. A hellraiser and heartbreaker (Merle Haggard and Glen Campbell were just a few of her noted lovers), Tucker made as many headlines [...]

  • A pair of handcuffs

    D.C. Concert Biz Heavyweight Seth Hurwitz Arrested for Solicitation

    Seth Hurwitz, a highly regarded figure in the Washington, D.C. concert scene, was arrested Wednesday on solicitation of prostitution after a massage therapist who felt harassed by Hurwitz helped police set up a bust. Hurwitz, owner of the 9:30 Club and Anthem venues and chairman of the Merriweather Post Pavilion, was released on $5,000 bond [...]

  • Major Lazer Fortnite

    Major Lazer Remixes Fortnite Soundtrack and Releases New In-Game Skins

    Major Lazer, one of Diplo’s many creative outlets, has teamed up with Fortnite to offer fans access to a unique character skin and new remixes of the game’s Default Dance track. The Lazerism set includes the Major Lazer Outfit, Lazer Wings, Lazer Aze, the Lazer Blast emote and the EDM group’s remix of the “Default [...]

  • Succession HBO

    'Succession' Composer Nicholas Britell on Making Music for the One Percent

    The Roys, the media empire family at the heart of HBO’s “Succession,” are ridiculously rich. They’re manipulative and cruel. They’re also a bit delusional and absurd. When Nicholas Britell conceived the show’s score, he wanted to capture all of that. “I wrote in this almost late-1700s, dark classical zone,” says Britell, the Oscar-nominated composer of [...]

  • Fred Durst attends the LA premiere

    Fred Durst Has No Woodstock '99 Regrets: 'Limp Bizkit Is an Easy Target So Bring it On'

    Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst is finally talking about Woodstock ’99 — the second anniversary of the 1969 festival that offered throngs of attendees a polar opposite experience to peace, love and mellow music. Now the stuff of legend — and a stellar multi-episode podcast series from The Ringer called “Break Stuff” — riots, fires [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content