Hot Docs Review: 'We Are the Thousand' Shows Just How Far People Will Go to Impress the Foo Fighters Directed by Anita Rivaroli
Starring Rockin'1000, Foo Fighters
Published May 04, 2021Some people devote their lives to science, pioneering the sustainable energy sources that could allow humanity to alter the disastrous trajectory of global warming. Others are passionate about humanitarian aid, putting their own lives at risk in order to provide assistance to those who need it most. Or, in the case of We Are the Thousand, some people spend an entire year forming a 1,000-person band in order to cover "Learn to Fly" as a way to convince Foo Fighters to play a concert in the small Italian city of Cesena.
There's something wonderfully frivolous about Rockin'1000, an Italian mega-group founded by Fabio Zaffagnini as a way to get Dave Grohl's attention and get the Foos to play a show in his hometown. It's like the ultimate extension of all those people who type "come to Brazil" in comments sections.
We Are the Thousand, directed by Anita Rivaroli, follows the project from its 2015 formation (resulting in the inevitable Foo Fighters concert) through to its post-Foos blossoming as an actual band. Toronto viewers might be reminded of Choir! Choir! Choir!, as a huge community of musicians assembles to perform epic versions of well-known hits.
It's a charming, innocent story about just how far a group of musicians will go to make their dream come true. It's particularly resonant during 2020-2021's pandemic lockdowns, as it's a strong reminder of the importance of a musical community. Even when the music is only fine, everyone is having the time of their lives.
It's a delightful story, although We Are the Thousand doesn't dig quite deep enough. In order to truly understand what motivates these musicians, we need some more background about who they actually are — it would have been fascinating to follow some of the main characters home, see their families and learn about their lives away from the group. By structuring the documentary chronologically, it places all the best parts — the initial performance of "Learn to Fly" and the triumphant subsequent Foo Fighters concert — in the first half of the doc. The final act is a comparatively dull comedown.
But still, viewers can strap in for a wonderful display of just how far some people will take a silly idea. I just hope you like "Learn to Fly," because you're going to hear it about a million times.
Hot Docs runs online from April 29 to May 9, 2021. Get more information at the festival's website. (Breaking Glass)