Is Nickelback Cool Enough for TIFF? Festival CEO Questioned Whether to Accept Band’s Doc: ‘F— It, Hell Yes’

Justice for Nickelback?

“Hate to Love,” a documentary about one of the most ragged on bands of all time, had its world premiere on Friday afternoon at the Toronto Film Festival and (maybe?) shed new light on the Canadian rockers.

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But given their reputation on some corners of the internet, Cameron Bailey, the CEO of TIFF, admits he questioned whether or not to program the film as part of this year’s lineup. “We talked about it and thought, ‘Are we still going to be cool and artsy if we invite this film?'” He says the ultimately decided to say, “Fuck it, hell yes.”

Leigh Brooks directed “Hate to Love,” a profile of the multi-platinum music group behind hits like “Rockstar” and “Photograph,” along the way charting their humble origins and evolution from mainstream success to arguably rock’s greatest punchline… and punching bag. Formed in 1995, Nickelback is composed of lead guitarist and vocalist Chad Kroeger, rhythm guitarist and keyboardist Ryan Peake, bassist Mike Kroeger and drummer Daniel Adair.

“How can you not like the band?” producer and radio DJ Ben Jones asked the audience at Roy Thompson Hall. He says his radio show was the first in the U.K. to popularize Nickelback’s 2001 single “How You Remind Me.”

Some of the biggest laughs of the screening came from clips of Nickelback supporters like Ryan Reynolds, whose superhero alter-ego Deadpool passionately defended everyone’s favorite band-to-hate in a teaser for 2018’s “Deadpool 2.”

Bailey called the band’s journey a “uniquely Canadian underdog story.” Brooks added, “It’s relatable to everyone.”

After the premiere, the director was joined on stage by Nickelback for a Q&A, in which he promised the band no longer has to answer questions about their meme-status. “This film does it.”

The group’s frontman Kroeger chimed in: “Hallelujah!”

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