Thursday, July 18, 2019

'The Band' will play again in doc to open 44th annual Toronto Film Festival

The Band gets together again, at least on film, when TIFF begins anew Sept. 5.
TORONTO ─  TIFF Co-Heads Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente announced today that the world premiere of "Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band," will be the Opening Night Gala Presentation for the 44th Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, Sept. 5, at Roy Thomson Hall. The premiere marks the first time a Canadian-made documentary opens the annual celebration of movies.

The tale of Robertson’s young life and the creation of one of the most enduring groups in the history of popular music is directed by 
Daniel Roher ("Ghosts of Our Forest"), as inspired by Robertson’s 2016 memoir, "Testimony." According to a TIFF release, the doc 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.  
“This is one of Toronto’s great stories of a hometown hero," said Bailey, the TIFF artistic director. “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.” 
“This stirring documentary takes audiences on a musical journey and shows us just what it takes to build one of the most significant groups in rock history,” added Vicente, the festival's executive director. “Robertson is a Canadian music icon, and his moving story of persistence and passion is the perfect way to begin Festival 2019 for both Cameron and me. We're eager to share the excitement of Opening Night with Toronto’s film lovers, and audiences can expect some very special guests joining us to help celebrate.”

In a career spanning six decades, 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. 

“I’m so tremendously honored that the premiere of (our film) will be the opening movie at TIFF this year, in my hometown of Toronto, Ontario, Canada,” Robertson said in the TIFF release.

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 5–15. Return here Tuesday when TIFF announces more Gala and Special Presentations. Until then click on these movie titles to check out my quick reviews of "The Lion King" and "The Spy Behind Home Plate" at Rotten Tomatoes.

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