It started as a wildly ambitious dream in 2015: music fan Fabio Zaffagnini wanted to convince the Foo Fighters to perform in his small Italian village, and he needed to do something that would make Dave Grohl and company take notice. He decided to gather 1,000 musicians and singers together to perform “Learn to Fly,” creating the biggest rock band on Earth. It was a crazy goal, but Fabio never faltered. In the end, his experiment launched Rockin’1000, a global community of creatives who are still making music all over the world.
In this documentary, writer-director Anita Rivaroli captures the overwhelming joy and disappointing challenges of pulling off a stunt this grand. Using actual footage of the setup and execution, from budgetary constraints to a wildly successful YouTube crowd funding campaign, the film rides the wave of highs and lows. The team behind the idea were brilliant marketers and planners, including the shrewd decision to appoint a “guru” for each section (bass, guitar, drums, and vocal) that would teach the participants their part in the song. By interviewing the artists, organizers, and volunteers, Rivaroli crafts an interesting and often humorous film about this musical (and social) experiment.
In order to earn an invitation to participate, musicians from near and far sent in audition videos (some of which are included in this film). It’s inspiring to see the different ages and backgrounds of the people who wanted to join in, a diverse group that included young students, factory workers, nurses, software developers, architects, painters, and even a sea captain.
The best part of the film is the Foo Fighters story, which shows the initial group rehearsal (disastrous) and the eventual exhilaration of watching as Fabio’s dream becomes a reality when 1,000 strangers perform in sync. One subject in the film describes it as “being flooded by sound like a shockwave,” and hearing everything finally come together as a whole gave me chills. Anyone who loves music will get a major shot of feel-good endorphins from this documentary.
Rivaroli follows the story into the years after the concert, following Fabio’s journey around the world as he creates Rockin’1000. It’s not nearly as interesting nor as inspiring as the first half, but this crowd-pleasing documentary speaks about the power music has to bring about peace, unity, and euphoria.