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Node Records Releases Score for Sean Penn’s Acclaimed New Family Drama “Flag Day”; Intimate Original Compositions by Joseph Vitarelli

(Los Angeles, CA) Monday, August 23, 2021 – On Friday, Aug. 20, Node Records proudly released composer Joseph Vitarelli’s score for Academy Award-winning actor-director Sean Penn’s powerful new film Flag DayWATCH the music trailer HERE PURCHASE/STREAM the soundtrack HERE.

The feature, which receives its domestic theatrical premiere on the same date, is based on Jennifer Vogel’s Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father’s Counterfeit Life, a moving memoir about the writer’s tumultuous relationship with her father John Vogel, one of the most prolific counterfeiters in U.S. history. Real-life family take the leading roles – Sean Penn as career criminal Vogel, and, in what Deadline called “a star-making showcase,” his daughter Dylan as Jennifer.

Node Records co-president and Flag Day‘s music supervisor Tracy McKnight says, “ I am so proud to be a part of this extraordinary project. It’s been an honor to collaborate with the music team that realized Sean’s vision and brought it to life. I am so happy to work again with Joseph, whose score is emotional, tender, and intimate and truly adds a beautiful layer of musical color to the film.”

The film was received well at its first screening in July at the Cannes Film Festival. Vitarelli, who was in attendance, says, “It was beautifully received with a strong standing ovation.” 

The family theme of Flag Day carries over into the relationship between the film’s director-star and its composer. Sean Penn and Joseph Vitarelli met in Santa Monica, California, and roomed together as young men in New York.

With credits on more than 40 theatrical features and TV films and series, musician Vitarelli has a history collaborating with Penn, writing additional music for his directorial debut, The Crossing Guard, in 1995.  But he notes that his latest work is not typical of most of his previous writing for the screen. 

“With Sean’s films,” he continues, “you go with what he’s responding to. As far as the setting was concerned, Sean looked to a smaller, more intimate setting – if I started to lean big, I’d find him less responsive. I went with an approach on a smaller scale, with solo instruments.

Vitarelli’s cues for Flag Day were recorded with ensembles that were never larger than a sextet. “It’s never more than a few soloists and keyboards,” he says. “There are ambient textures that create, hopefully, a dream-like state, using different samplers and synthesizers, but those are used very, very sparingly. There’s an immediacy in that, and I think the film is well served by that.” 

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 naturally affected the production of both the feature and its music. Fortunately, modern production techniques allowed Vitarelli’s musicians to work remotely.

 “We were recording during the pandemic,” he recalls. “Most of the guitar work was played by John Ballinger, and that was done in the studio, but he also did several things at home. Charlie Bisharat’s solo violin was recorded at Dave Way’s studio in Los Angeles. I had Tom Brechtlein playing drums in his studio in Austin, Texas.” 

Beyond Vitarelli’s original writing, Flag Day utilizes two Chopin nocturnes that were recorded expressly for the production by Robert Thies, the only American to win a major Russian solo piano competition since Van Cliburn’s Moscow triumph of 1958.

The film is currently in select theaters by United Artists/MGM Studios. For additional information on the score, visit www.noderecords.com.

Flag Day Track listing

1. The Woods – Thief River (3:15)2. Sailfeather (2:24)3. Job Hunting (1:27)4. People Do Change (2:55)5. Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 Eb Major (4:23)6. Counterfeiting and Research (2:13)7. The Robbery (2:49)8. Chase (1:17)9. The Field (4:11)10. Nocturne #20 C# Minor – Posthumous (4:30)

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About Node RecordsNode Records is a label committed to curating, releasing, and marketing music from groundbreaking artists and films. Node, headed by co-presidents Tracy McKnight and Robert Thompson, is based in Los Angeles and New York.  Recent releases include the soundtrack for Pedro Kos’ provocative documentary Rebel Hearts featuring songs from Rufus Wainwright and Sharon Van Etten, ask the river, the debut solo release by Academy Award-winning composer Rachel Portman, Halston with the score by Stanley Clarke, and the Academy Award-winning documentary, Free Solo with the score by Marco Beltrami.