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Toronto Film Festival Dailies

The  44th  Toronto  International  Film  Festival  runs  September  5–15,  2019 in Canada's most vibrant and exciting metropolis, it has become one of the most important film events on the festival calendar.

Showcasing more than 300 films and hosting industryites from around the world, Toronto can "make or break" films looking for international distribution and a chance at Oscar gold. From glitzy red carpet premieres to challenging art films to cutting edge new media, the Festival offers something for every taste.

Past Coverage 2014 2015 - Coverage 2016 in French   English


“I’ll die before this film isn’t great.” quoting the director of Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band is a confessional, cautionary, and occasionally humorous tale of Robbie Robertson’s young life and the creation of one of the most enduring groups in the history of popular music, The Band. The film is a moving story of Robertson’s personal journey, overcoming adversity and finding 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 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, Ronnie Hawkins, and more.

Building on a career spanning six decades, Robbie Robertson continues to create as a songwriter, producer, performer, actor, author and film composer. As a half-Mohawk, half-Jewish kid from Toronto, Robertson would travel from the dives of Yonge Street to the deep South as an ambitious 16-year-old on a musical mission. His raw talent would 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, as a member of The Band, collaborating with Dylan on the ground-breaking Basement Tapes and inventing Americana with songs like “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” After 17 years, The Band called it quits with a lavish farewell concert on November 25th, 1976, at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, immortalized in the seminal concert film, The Last Waltz, directed by Martin Scorsese – considered by many as the greatest rock and roll film of all time.


"The first time I heard The Band was through my parents and I was instantly pulled toward their sound. Their incredible musicianship grabbed me, it seemed to come from a different place. The harmonies were rough and sweet. The music, timeless. I was hooked. The myth and legend behind the five men who made that music came into focus when I saw Martin Scorsese’s film, The Last Waltz, as a teenager. Rick, Richard, Levon, Robbie and Garth seemed like itinerant outlaws, dust bowl union men, medicine show hucksters who stepped out from one of their own songs.

They transcended celebrity, because they weren’t rock stars—they were musicians. When Robbie released his memoir, I devoured it. A wild musical journey built on a scattered upbringing in Toronto, on the Six Nations Reserve and in the living rooms of his underworld Yiddish relatives. I could see that this would make an extraordinary documentary, and making this film became my obsession. I would beg, kill, cry or steal to get this job. I wasn’t the obvious choice, but I hoped that what I lacked in profile, I could make up for in my unbridled passion for Robbie’s awe-inspiring story. Through sheer force of will, I wedged myself into the discussion. I told anyone that would listen that this was my dream project.

My maxim: “I’ll die before this film isn’t great.”

The producers at White Pine Pictures and Shed Creative Agency recognized my verve and zeal, and soon after I had the chance to meet with Robbie at his studio in LA. I pitched him my vision, and promised I would work 25 hours a day, 8 days a week to make a documentary befitting of his mythic life. Robbie changed my life when he said, “kid, let’s make trouble together”. What followed was a whirlwind musical adventure of my own. I had the chance to sit with some of the most extraordinary musical artists of our time, delve deeper into Robbie’s life and get to work with, and learn from, some of the most talented and legendary people in the film business. Robbie’s story is about dreams coming true. It’s about a kid from Toronto who, against all odds, envisions a life for himself where he goes out into the world and achieves artistic success in the art form he was born to pursue.

This is also my story. Robbie taught me that you must be willing to give everything to your art. You must be bold, uncompromising and thrust yourself into new opportunities with chutzpa and vigor. Robbie is uncompromising and tough. He demands greatness. If it’s not as good as it can be, why does it exist? It’s in this spirit that I made this film. I hope you enjoy it".

Daniel Roher

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About Toronto Film Festival Dailies

The Dailies from Toronto

Contributing editors: Bruno Chatelin 

Laurie Gordon Animaze International Film Festival Le Miaff!
Leopoldo Soto Huatulco Food and Film Festival Director
Gary Lucas Guitar hero Performing artist live score to classic and horror film
Mike Rabehl Programmer and Buyer Cinequest Film Festival San Jose Tiwtter: @cqmike
Vanessa McMahon  




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