Bao has made history in being the first Pixar short film to be directed by a woman, Domee Shi, as well as being the longest Pixar short to date. The adorable seven-and-a-half-minute animation depicts the life of a lonely Chinese-Canadian woman who miraculously receives an unexpected second chance at motherhood when her homemade dumpling comes to life.
Domee Shi tells Entertainment Weekly how her upbringing as an only child to immigrant parents, after her family moved from China to Toronto when the director was two years old, inspired Bao: “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. I just wanted to create this magical, modern-day fairy tale, kind of like a Chinese Gingerbread Man story. The word ‘bao’ actually means two things in Chinese: Said one way, it means steamed bun. Said another, it means something precious. A treasure.”
The short film traces the mother’s relationship with her precious bao from childhood to its moody teenage years; a testament to the character’s patience and unconditional love. Domee Shi’s mother acted as a cultural consultant during Bao’s production. According to Entertainment Weekly, the crew filmed her making dumplings in order to accurately recreate the culinary process.
In 2012, Brave became the first Pixar feature film to be directed by a woman, Brenda Chapman.