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Directed by Daniel Roher

United States 2019 100 mins. In English

This Scorsese-produced love letter sits down with frontman Robbie Robertson, who reminisces about The Band’s career as both Bob Dylan’s backers during his early electric period, and their own mercurial rise and abrupt end. Going behind-the-scenes through the group’s long and storied career, the film touches on Robertson and drummer/vocalist Levon Helm’s first exposure to rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, to the group’s time backing Dylan during that mythical period where he changed folk music history. Finally, as they became their own masters, Roher dives deep into the brotherly relationships the five members forged—tragically cut short by the early deaths of Helm and keyboardist Richard Manuel. Once Were Brothers is a vital, touching portrait of one of rock’s most important yet relatively unheralded groups.

Part of the 37th Annual Reel Music Festival.

Genres: Documentary

Appears in: Reel Music 37



The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.