Robbie Robertson, Band Documentary to Get U.S. Premiere

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The Band in the kitchen of “Big Pink,” Easter Sunday, West Saugerties, NY, 1968. Photo: © Elliott Landy, LandyVision Inc. (L-R) Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Robbie Robertson

The U.S. premiere of Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band will be the opening night film at DOC NYC on Nov. 6. The documentary had its world premiere when it opened the 44th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Sept. 5.

DOC NYC is an annual documentary festival.

Directed by Daniel Roher (Ghosts of Our Forest) and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, the feature documentary from White Pine Pictures follows Robertson from his early life in Toronto and on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve, in Southern Ontario, to the creation of legendary roots-rock group The Band.

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, says a festival press release, “blends rare archival footage, photography, iconic songs and interviews with some of Robertson’s friends and collaborators — including Scorsese, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, Taj Mahal, Dominique Robertson, and Ronnie Hawkins — to explore the six-decade career of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer behind anthems like ‘The Weight,’ ‘Up on Cripple Creek’ and ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.'”

Watch a press conference for the film with Robertson, its director, Roher, plus Howard and Grazer

Robertson’s 2016 memoir is the basis for the documentary, about the legendary musician and founding member of the group.

The film has been acquired by Magnolia Pictures and will be released theatrically in early 2020.

From the original May 9 announcement: “The film is a confessional, cautionary, and occasionally humorous tale of Robertson‘s young life and the creation of one of the most enduring groups in the history of popular music. It blends rare archival footage and interviews with many of Robertson’s friends and collaborators, including Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Scorsese, Taj Mahal, Peter Gabriel, David Geffen and Ronnie Hawkins, among others.

“I’m honoured to have my memoir, Testimony, made into a documentary film by such an extraordinarily talented creative team,” said Robertson, who turned 76 on July 5.

Related: Robertson has released a new solo album, Sinematic

More from the announcement: A half-Mohawk, half-Jewish kid from Toronto, Robertson got his break at 16-years-old with Ronnie Hawkins’ The Hawks. He was Bob Dylan’s guitarist on the notorious 1966 “electric” world tour and as leader of The Band, collaborated on the ground-breaking Basement Tapes, inventing “Americana”, with songs like “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek,” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

The Band’s touring culminated with the seminal concert and film, The Last Waltz, directed by Scorsese.

Related: The Last Waltz – An Audience Member Revisits

Best Classic Bands Staff

5 Comments so far

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  1. JCB
    #1 JCB 6 July, 2019, 08:30

    Robbie is a well known jerk. When your former bandmates all trash you, you earned it.

    Reply this comment
    • Kelz
      Kelz 20 July, 2019, 00:24

      I totally agree, JCB. He ripped The Band off by claiming to have written most of their songs, getting royalties. If he was that good, why has he not written any more, since they broke up, Levon died, etc?

      Reply this comment
    • GiggirlNewYork
      GiggirlNewYork 26 October, 2019, 12:33

      Agreed. Scorsese always favored Robertson so continually slanted the angle of Robertson being the ‘leader’ of The Band. Robertson had been a great song writer but in no way was considered a leader by the members of The Band. The man has a poor voice and mediocre guitar talent relying greatly on the talents of mainly Levon Helm and Rick Danko to add authenticity to the Band sound. Scorsese may try to reinvent history because of his enamor of Robertson but every Band member did not agree with identifying Roberson as a ‘leader.’

      Reply this comment
  2. Thangfish
    #2 Thangfish 31 October, 2019, 07:53

    TOTALLY agree!
    As a Canadian (not that there’s anything wrong with that! )
    just what would R.R. know about the subject matter in those songs, if not for the great Levon Helm??
    As the last surviving member, I reckon he gets the final say, but not the definitive story.
    Timing is everything, as they say… and in this case, I highly doubt coincidental.
    Zero credibility, zero respect given.

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