A youthful pic of Robbie with Bob Dylan taken in NYC. Pic: Robbie Robertson Instagram page
A youthful pic of Robbie with Bob Dylan taken in NYC. Pic: Robbie Robertson Instagram page

Bell Media Scoops Robbie Robertson TIFF Gala Doc

The Robbie Robertson and David Foster music biopics will air on Crave later this year and the Air Canada’s Walk Of fame event will be broadcast on both CTV and Crave in December.

TIFF Co-Heads Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente announced Thursday that 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, 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 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 blends archival footage, photography, 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.”

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 centre of a cultural revolution, backing Bob Dylan on his notorious 1966 electric world tour and later collaborating with Dylan on the ground-breaking 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.

Made in conjunction with Imagine Documentaries, White Pine Pictures, Bell Media Studios and Universal Music Canada’s Shed Creative, the project is executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Imagine Entertainment Chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, Justin Wilkes and Sara Bernstein for Imagine Documentaries; White Pines Pictures’ president Peter Raymont, and COO Steve Ord; Bell Media president, Randy Lennox; Jared Levine; Michael Levine; Universal Music Canada president and CEO Jeffrey Remedios; and Shed Creative’s managing director Dave Harris.

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

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