By John Liu
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Did you know there is a short film before Incredibles 2? Historically, Pixar has always used its feature films to showcase new technology and stories. The latest short film, Bao, has been on my radar for months because of its Chinese Canadian creator. Needless to say, Incredibles 2 is an incredible sequel and already has the record for highest grossing weekend for an animated film. This is great because Bao will be getting a lot of exposure.
Domee Shi, the first female director of a Pixar short film explains that bao has multiple meanings in Chinese: it means “dumpling,” and another meaning is “something precious.”
Pixar’s official statement about Bao, “It explores the ups and downs of the parent-child relationship through the colorful, rich and tasty lens of the Chinese immigrant community in Canada.” Shi used the film to explore her relationship with her own mother. In fact, Shi’s mother even served as a dumpling consultant for the film. As you can imagine, great care when into this film to make sure it was culturally sensitive and accurate to Chinese immigrants.
Bao is about an elderly Chinese woman who is cooking dumplings when suddenly one of her dumplings springs to life. Next, we get to see this anatomically correct dumpling move through the human life cycle. Whenever the dumpling tries to venture off on his own, his overprotective mother stops him. Then finally there’s a pretty shocking conclusion. I will just leave it that, so as not so spoil it for you.
It’s actually very intriguing to see Asian Easter Eggs like Shrimp Chips, Gameboy, and an analog phone. Maybe it is telling that the Asian immigrant experience is so rare in an animated film that I consider all these little things Easter eggs. Be sure to keep an eye out for Canadian Easter eggs too.
The feedback for Bao has been overwhelmingly positive. Many Asians immediately felt the connection to their own mothers who treated them the same way when growing up and were in tears or touched at the end of the short film. However, those who are not familiar with Asian culture may not understand some of the themes of Bao. This is a good reminder of the importance of being exposed to diversity and culture in our lives.
I highly recommend everyone to get to theater “on time” so you do not miss this short film.
Let’s hope Bao wins the Academy Award for best Animated Short film in February 24, 2019!
John can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.