For the first time in its 36-year history, the Toronto International Film Festival will open with a documentary: From the Sky Down, a film from Davis Guggenheim that captures legendary rock band U2 (pictured) on stage and in the studio, and delves deep into the recording of their seminal 1991 album Achtung Baby, will open this year’s fest, which kicks off September 8.
At a press conference to announce the upcoming TIFF slate, Cameron Bailey, co-director of the festival, called the film a “powerful marriage of music and film.”
Guggenheim, director of the Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth and helmer of the acclaimed Waiting for “Superman,” reportedly accompanied the Irish rock band to rehearsals in Winnipeg mounted during its current 360 Tour that focused on performances of tracks from the 1991 album.
Achtung Baby marked a defiant turn for the band from the more earnest stylings of its previous hit albums, such as The Joshua Tree. U2 vocalist Bono has called the album “the sound of four men chopping down The Joshua Tree.”
“In the terrain of rock bands, implosion or explosion is seemingly inevitable,” said Guggenheim in a statement. “U2 has defied the gravitational pull towards destruction; this band has endured and thrived. The movie From the Sky Down asks the question why.”
The film will also feature new interviews and unseen footage from the Achtung Baby sessions in Berlin and Dublin.
The U2 film won’t be the only high-profile music doc making its way to Toronto in September: Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam Twenty is also on the roster.
Also at the press conference, Bailey and TIFF director and CEO Piers Handling pointed to the fact that Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre, steps from the TIFF Bell Lightbox, will be used as an additional screening venue for this year’s fest, able to accommodate 1,500 moviegoers.
As for the Lightbox, it celebrates its first anniversary this year, having welcomed 600,000 filmgoers thus far, according to Handling.
More film announcements will come in the weeks ahead, with the full program to be announced by the end of August.