TIFF 2018: Evoking the Raw Emotions of “Life Itself”

The Man Behind the Music: Federico Jusid

Federico Jusid is an award winning music composer who recently created the score for Life Itself, which premiered at TIFF this year. The movie released September 21, 2018 across Canada and features Olivia Cooke, Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, and Mandy Patinkin.  Jusid has written the scores for more than 40 feature films, and over 25 television series. Included in that list is the Academy Award-winner, “The Secret In Their Eyes” which won Best Foreign Film in 2009.

Life Itself shares raw emotions that we often experience each day: joy, sadness, or frustration combined with our own internal dialogue. What struck me the most about Jusid was his ability to compliment strong emotional moments in the film with a smooth musical score.  “The film helps the emotional content, and gets so intense very often that the music has to be respectful not to overpower that. There are a lot of pop sings in the film. The score had to blend it with all the songs, without sounding completely alien. I didn’t want the audience to get distracted from some abrupt changes in the music; that was a big challenge,” says Jusid.

Before starting to write, Jusid took his time to prepare for the film. He watched Life Itself 7 or 8 times, along with other films, to better understand the tone of the film.

“For each film, we try to find something special, something particular and built only for that film. We look for something that would echo this tone that could be emotional, not too pompous or operatic.  I used mainly a string orchestra, and instead of singing melodies with 16 violins or with French horns in an epic way, perhaps there are some toy pianos that would sound almost a little bit infantile or very simple, very naïve to accompany that part of the script. To combine those instruments with the orchestra, it is as if a guitar was playing an orchestra, accompanying a singer, serving as if the dialogue was the melody of the score.”

Jusid has the unique ability to understand the essence and range of emotions in each of his films, whether it is Misconduct, Black Butterfly, Kidnap or The Hunter’s Prayer. His musical compositions create a beautiful connection between the visuals on screen in Life Itself with emotions that connect all of us.

Jusid’s next project involves creating the music for the mini-series Watership Down for BBC/Netflix based on the adventure novel by Richard Adams. Life Itself  hits theatres across Canada on September 21, 2018.