Faith native scores music for 9/11 film to be aired on PBS

Published 12:10 am Saturday, September 10, 2016

By Amanda Raymond

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 resonate deeply in the United States even 15 years later. Cliff Retallick, a composer, songwriter and performer, was aware that the music of a new documentary about that day needed to match the tone of the event without going overboard.

“We had to make it really intense without making it so sad that you could not bear to watch it,” he said. “That was a line that I walked through several parts of this movie.”

Retallick helped compose the music for the documentary “For the Love of Their Brother,” airing on 250 Public Broadcasting Service stations around the country.

The documentary will air on WTVI at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Retallick said he had never worked with a film aired on PBS before. He graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ School of Film with a master’s degree in film music composition. He was in a band called Mercury Dime, which played from Charlotte to Wilmington, with a home base in Chapel Hill, according to the band’s Facebook page.

Retallick grew up in Faith and visits frequently. Now, he lives in Los Angeles and scores films, plays live scores on the piano for silent films and works in music production.

Retallick became involved with the film when Lance Coviello, an editor of the film, gave him a call and asked if he would come in and score a scene. Retallick and Coviello were classmates at UNCSA and worked together on different projects.

“We always loved working together. It was fantastic,” Retallick said.

Retallick submitted a sample to producers, along with other composers, and they ended up choosing him to work on the film.

The film, produced by 3 Roads Communications, is about the family of Stephen Siller, a New York City firefighter who died on 9/11. According to the film’s website, Siller was leaving work when he got word that a plane had struck one of the World Trade Center towers.

“Stephen turned his truck around and ran through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to what would become Ground Zero,” it states on the website.

The Siller family created the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation in his memory, as well as the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Race that retraces Stephen’s journey through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to Ground Zero and donates funds to charities.

Retallick said there are scenes in the film that show coverage of the attacks that have not been seen since that day.

He wanted the music to speak to the tragedy of 9/11, but also to how the community came together to rebuild and give back as the Siller family did.

“Music… tells us it’s OK to feel sad about this, but all hope is not lost,” he said.

Retallick wrote the song and submitted it to producers a couple of days after seeing the first cut of the film.

“There was no lack of subject matter to write a tune about,” he said.

It was not difficult for Retallick to relate to the Siller family. He said almost everyone has lost someone close to them, including him, so he wrote the song in that point of view.

“I hadn’t sung something that sincere and straight since I had my band, Mercury Dime,” he said.

Retallick said the events of 9/11 is something the country is still dealing with today and this film allows the audience to process the events through the story of one family.

He said it was “extraordinarily gratifying” to have worked on a project with such significance.

“I’m very happy to have worked on this,” Retallick said. “I do think it’s one of those pieces that actually has a meaning and maybe, in some way, will impact people’s lives.”

For more information about the film, visit

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.