Grad Film Student's Short Doc to Debut at 2017 Slamdance Film Festival

It Is What It Is - Trailer

Second-year MFA in Film student Cyrus Yoshi Tabar's short documentary It Is What it Is will screen as part of the 2017 Slamdance Film Festival, taking place January 20-26 in Park City, Utah.

This marks the first time a CCA graduate Film student has earned such an honor.

The short documentary will also have its California / Bay Area premiere at CAAMFest35 (Asian American International Film Festival) in San Francisco March 19 at 12:10 p.m., preceding the documentary Random Acts of Legacy (directed by Ali Kazimi).

Tabar's film was made during his first year at CCA and will now have its US premiere Friday, January 20, screening with Who Is Arthur Chu, by directors Scott Drucker and Yu Gu. (Short documentaries -- up to 40 min running time -- are programmed to screen prior to full-length documentaries.)

A Film Festival By Filmmakers, For Filmmakers

Slamdance is a showcase for raw and innovative filmmaking self-governed --by filmmakers, for filmmakers. The year-round organization serves new and emerging artists, filmmakers, and storytellers.

Slamdance adamantly supports self-governance amongst independents and exists to deliver what filmmakers go to festivals for -- a chance to show their work and a platform to launch their careers.

The festival has earned a solid reputation for premiering films by first-time writers and directors working within the creative confines of limited budgets.

It Is What it Is

Tabar, a first-generation Iranian-Japanese-American, has a photo of his grandparents holding him as an infant. The photo captures his first and last encounter with them.

Seeking to understand the fracture in his family, Cyrus embarks on a journey into the dark and nebulous corners of his family history.

Fragmented and cloudy images of his family speckle his investigation as he talks to his aunt and sister, but discovers that a family’s narrative isn’t linear and that truth is elusive.

"I started the project with a desire to uncover why there is such a rift in my family," explains Tabar, "in hopes that this would answer questions I had about my own identity.

"In the end, I found that it was the quest I took, rather than the terminus,  to connect with my family about our history that had the most impact on me.

"I realized that certain things might be better off left in the past in order to move forward, to begin anew."

Supportive Faculty Boosts Student Career Goals

The filmmaker acknowledges the support he received from CCA's accomplished Film faculty: "Film co-chairs Rob Epstein and Brook Hinton and Film faculty members Jeanne Finley, Chris Mason Johnson, Pratibha Parmar, and Chris Johnson all guided me throughout my entire creation process.

"This project was kept in motion by the professors’ passionate direction and counsel. Through my work with them, I feel that I had a breakthrough in my own creative process, for which I am forever grateful."

As for the young filmmaker's career goals: "I wish to create cinema that triggers certain mystical characteristics of the medium, that reaches out to touch the audience, that finds ways to provoke empathy through its form and story.

"This film is a big step into this life-long endeavor."

About the Slamdance Screenplay Competition

The Slamdance Screenplay Competition is dedicated to discovering and supporting emerging writing talent. We welcome screenplays in every genre, on any topic, from anywhere in the world.

A unique feature of the competition is providing constructive feedback for every entrant. Now in our 21st year, we have a history of highlighting talented, independent screenwriters and introducing them to the entertainment industry.

All of our readers approach scripts differently, but in general, we are looking for originality and promise in a work.

We strive to foster an independent spirit among new writers and filmmakers.

See CCA's MFA in Film and undergraduate Film Program to explore a career in filmmaking.