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#HotDocs21 Review: We Are the Thousand

May 5, 2021

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 2021 Hot Docs Festival is running virtually from April 29th to May 9th, all films are available to stream for audiences across Canada

Fabio Zaffagnini wanted to attract the attention of the Foo Fighters in hopes that the band would play a show in his hometown of Cesana, Italy. So he came up with the idea to have a thousand musicians and singers perform the band’s song “Learn to Fly” together in a park, in order to create a video, post it on the internet, and hopefully attract the attention of Dave Grohl himself. From here, the Rockin’ 1000 was born, a musical collective that functions as the biggest rock band on the planet.

Directed by Anita Rivaroli, who initially came onboard to help shoot the viral video of the group’s performance, the spirited documentary We Are the Thousand does a wonderful job showing everything that went into this attention-grabbing event. The first section of the film focuses on the basic logistics of getting a thousand people playing together to actually sound good, from physical arrangements of where the drummers, guitarists, bass players and vocalists should be set up, to keeping them in sync through a flashing light system. The second half explores what happened after the video was posted, which is equally inspiring to watch.

Along with beautifully shot footage of the performance itself, the film also features interviews with different members of the Rockin’ 1000, who were brought together through an open call and range in age from adolescents to retired adults. They all have personal reasons for wanting to join, some of them quite touching. The film not only captures the excitement of live music, but will also make you nostalgic for large gatherings and group activities. It’s a delight to watch, and one of the biggest feel-good films of this year’s festival.

We Are the Thousand is available to watch from April 29th until May 9th. It includes a Q&A. Digital tickets and more information can be found right here.

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