When word got out that Disney's Pixar was releasing an animated short about dumplings and family, reactions went something like this:
"OMG CRYING ALREADY."
OK, maybe that last one was just us. But the excitement turned into pride for many Asian-Canadians with news that "Bao" is directed by Domee Shi, who grew up in Toronto.
The seven-and-half minute film will be released as the appetizer to the studio's major summer release of "Incredibles 2" on June 15.
Not only is that a big achievement, but Shi has also made Pixar history as the first woman director of an animated short.
Breaking: Pixar's next short film 'Bao' (w/ #Incredibles2 in theaters) explores an empty-nesting Chinese Mother (Directed by Domee Shi). Read more about this film of "firsts" (1st female-directed short film at Pixar. Longest Pixar short to-date at 8 min) https://t.co/oXQ6Q2g6wF pic.twitter.com/ghwUPEmMn8— Pixar Post (@ThePixarPost) March 28, 2018
The film is based loosely her experiences as a child of Chinese immigrants in Canada.
Shi came to Toronto from China with her family when she was two, according to The Disney blog. She grew up in the North York area, completed Sheridan College's well-regarded Animation program, and went on to intern at Pixar Animation Studios in California.
Shi was hired on after her internship and her first film credit was for the hit animated film "Inside Out." No big deal.
"Bao" is about a Chinese-Canadian woman suffering from empty-nest loneliness. But then one of her dumplings comes to life ...
Your exclusive first look at #Pixar's adorable new short, 'Bao,' is here. ❤️'Bao,' which will debut in front of #Incredibles2, is a culinary fable about a Chinese-Canadian woman suffering from the depression of an empty nest, who gets a second shot at motherhood when one of her handmade dumplings comes alive. It's also the first short film from Pixar to be directed by a woman. Click the link in our bio for more. 📷: Disney/Pixar
Entertainment Weekly released two exclusive images from the short on Friday.
The animator, who now lives in Oakland, Calif. drew on her relationship with her mom as inspiration for the short, according to EW.
"Often times it felt like my mom would treat me like a precious little dumpling, wanting to make sure I was safe, that I didn't go out late, all that stuff," Shi said. "I just wanted to create this magical, modern-day fairy tale, kind of like a Chinese Gingerbread Man story."
She explained that depending on how you pronounce it, "bao" can mean "steamed bun" or something precious."
Shi's mom also took part in the production of the film, according to EW, serving as a cultural consultant and providing detailed demonstrations of how to make perfect dumplings, which were filmed and used as reference. Shi called her mother a "dumpling master."
The response has been nothing short of enthusiastic:
Oh. My. GOD!!!!!!!! Pixar + dumplings = nirvana https://t.co/Hy6mntlUyy— Justine Chen (@SassClassNiceAs) March 30, 2018
STOP IT PIXAR, I AM ONLY NOW RECOVERING FROM COCO AND NOW YOU GIVE ME THIS ASIAN DIASPORA SHORT ABOUT A HEARTBROKEN MOTHER AND DUMPLINGS, WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO, KILL ME?— Benjamin Law (@mrbenjaminlaw) March 30, 2018
So as we wait for "Bao"'s release, we say get your fill of your favourite dumplings in the meantime to prepare.
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