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New Band doc “Once Were Brothers” premieres in Toronto, will get theatrical release in early 2020

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Courtesy of TIFF/Photo by Elliott LandyThe worldwide rights to the new documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday night, have been acquired by Magnolia Pictures, Deadline reports.

The film, which tells the story of the influential group and its lead guitarist and main songwriter, got its world premiere as part of a gala presentation at the festival. A wide theatrical release for the doc is planned for early 2020.

The movie, which was executive-produced by Robbie Robertson’s pal Martin Scorsese, plus Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, was based mainly on Robertson’s 2016 memoir, Testimony.

“Being a longtime fan of The Band, Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band still held many surprises and information I didn’t know,” says Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles in a statement announcing the deal. “[Director] Daniel Roher has fashioned a stirring tribute to a great American ensemble.”

Billboard reports that Robertson, Howard, Grazer and Roher attended a press conference Thursday at the festival, during which Toronto mayor John Tory presented Robbie with a key to the city — his hometown.

“This is quite beautiful, guys,” Robertson said. “I’m really touched by this and it’s a complete surprise to me. So thank you very, very much from the bottom of my heart. This is my hood, and now I’ve got the key…that goes with it.”

In other news, Robertson has premiered a new song called “Once Were Brothers” from his upcoming album, Sinematic,  due out September 20. The melancholy tune celebrates his old group and laments how his relationship with the other members — three of whom have passed away — dissolved.

“Once were brothers, brothers no more,” Robbie sings in the chorus. “We lost our connection after the war/ There’ll be no revival, there’ll be no encore.”

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