Q&A with PBS Online Film Festival Director Cyrus Yoshi Tabar

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It Is What It Is tells the story of Writer, Director and Editor Cyrus Yoshi Tabar’s perplexing journey to learn more about his heritage through unusual audio and visual effects. PBS spoke with Cyrus to find out more about his ambiguous film. 

PBS: There’s something haunting about the mix of audio you use during the introduction of your film and the shaky images/footage of you with your grandparents. What were you trying to evoke from the audience? Why did you want to portray it this way?

Cyrus Yoshi Tabar: I experimented with so many different techniques throughout the creation of the film. My main objective was to evoke the feeling of remembering; the nebulous, foggy, and even sharp moments of clarity that our memories conjure. I was making the film in real time as I was piecing together my family history, so nothing was ever concrete. The ‘shaky’ image technique came from a happy accident while tinkering with the camera. I looked at the footage and thought, “Wow. That’s how I’ll do it!”

The sound design was integral to the edit. There wasn’t much of a logical progression to the process, but more of a meditative and experimental approach. I wanted to use metaphor and suggestion within the sound design, like birds flying, icebergs breaking, and fires burning. Somehow the combination of these sounds and images strike a delicate balance that I’m really happy with.

More from the Q&A on PBS.org!

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Watch and vote for It Is What It Is!