Film Review by Abigail Mejia: “It Is What It Is”

*spoilers ahead*

It Is What It Is is a story of a family. A look into the past. The rift between the young and the old. It forces its viewers to wonder: What should be known about one’s past? What should be left unknown? Family is deeply rooted. It reminds us that we do not know everything–sometimes just the immediate truth. The filmmaker takes us on his complex journey, not to discover, but to ask.

Filmmaker Cyrus Tabar documents his search for the reasons behind his family’s tumultuous history. Though he is part Japanese American and part Iranian American, he has never met any of his family from Iran; the only remnants of them he has are the copious amounts of archival footage. Something from the past forces the two sides of his family to cut off all contact. He narrates his story as he visualizes his memories in his compelling compilations of homemade videos. The film shows us that, sometimes, a story can tell us the truth through the question, minus the answer.

Tabar phenomenally utilizes archival footage in a way that accurately depicts the fragmented ambiguity that is the human memory. The visual effects and editing further enhance the already intriguing narrative of Tabar’s past. Along with the great sound design and mixing, themes of confusion and the search for an answer are made very clear in It Is What It Is. The film adheres well to the idea of an Asian American film because it tells of the filmmaker’s struggle as an Asian American who lives a life completely separate from his extended family. Through the sole use of archival footage, Tabar fantastically puts his audience in his shoes throughout his quest.

This film will be played during the Ithaca Pan Asian-American Film Festival on Thursday, April 20.

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