TIFF 19: The Boss says concert film Western Stars "an emotional log" of his life

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Bruce Springsteen fans were out in force for a glimpse of The Boss on Thursday night as his TIFF movie, Western Stars, a concert film of his 19th album of the same name, had its world premiere at Roy Thomson Hall.

“We love Bruce,“ said Jennifer Martins from Aurora, Ont., who waited with three other women for two hours to be first in line to get a wristband to enter the fan section.

“Because we’ve had a 40-year relationship with this guy since our teenage lives, (he) saved our adult lives, helped us raise our children,” said Martins. “And the way he shares his mental health challenges right?”

Added Stephanie Pavlich of Markham, Ont.: “The music, like even now, it comes at the right time like when you’re going through things in your personal life and we need it and it’s there. And there have been so many albums like that.”

Echoed Penny Sutcliffe from Sudbury, Ont.: “It’s so relevant today. (Springsteen’s) old stuff as well as the new stuff. He speaks to those issues (of racism and equity). And how is it that he keeps those issues alive? I don’t know given the life that we imagine he has but he’s able to and I think it really speaks to generations.”

The Boss co-directed the movie with longtime visual collaborator and personal archivist Thom Zimny and told reporters on the red carpet: “It’s a continuation of my storytelling and I hope people are inspired by it and enjoy it – that’s what it’s always been about for me. It’s kind of like an emotional log of my life and I think everybody else’s.”

Springsteen, who turns 70 on Sept. 23, has said the movie is part of a trilogy that began with his memoirs and Broadway residency.

The concert part of Western Stars was filmed inside the beautiful, cathedral-like barn on Springsteen’s ranch with a 30-piece-orchestra and his wife Patti Scialfa at his side on acoustic guitar and backup vocals.

“Working with Bruce the past 19 years I recognized that this film was different,” Zimny said on the red carpet.

“Right away, he was in the space working with me on both the visual quality of the film and the approach so there was never a conversation of, ‘Are we going to direct this together?’ It just happened naturally. And I think that’s the beauty of working with him but also getting this idea of trust. I find his focus to be really inspiring and this music sonically just felt right on the screen so for me, I’m really grateful for this journey.”

Springsteen has only ever performed Western Stars in its entirety once for the movie and said he will not tour for it.

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