The new documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band opens in select theaters in New York City and the Los Angeles area this Friday, February 21, then gets a wider release on February 28.
The film, which is based on Robertson’s 2016 memoir Testimony, follows The Band’s story from its formation as a Canadian bar band, to its adventures touring with Bob Dylan and its development into an influential Americana group, and on to its historic farewell concert, “The Last Waltz.”
Robertson tells ABC Audio that he recently attended a special screening of the film and was surprised at how many people were touched by it.
“[I]n the audience there [were] people crying, breaking into tears,” he recalls. “You don’t do that to rock ‘n’ roll documentaries. And there’s people that said, ‘I cried three times in this film.’…It’s that moving.”
Robbie says he chose a relatively unknown, 24-year-old filmmaker named Daniel Roher to direct the movie because, “I could sense his dedication, his passion in doing this.”
Robertson says that when it came to making the film, “I really got out of the way. I did some interviews with [Roher] and everything, and he just went out and did the work.”
Once Were Brothers also features new interviews with Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel and Taj Mahal, plus archival conversations with Dylan, George Harrison, late Band singer/drummer Levon Helm and others.
Robertson tells ABC Audio that another element that enhanced the doc’s impact was various rare photos and home movies that Roher incorporated into the flick.
“They found photographs, and…footage of things that I shot that I forgot completely about,” he notes. “And it really, really adds to this.”
Visit OnceWereBrothers.com for more details about the movie.
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