I recently went to see Incredibles 2 and was captivated by the short film that preceded it.
Bao is a short film, with a running time of 8 minutes. Those 8 minutes are packed with humour and heartfelt moments.
The story tells of a Chinese woman who is married to a busy husband, who is frequently absent from home. One day she is making some dumplings when suddenly one comes to life. In Chinese ‘bao’ has two meanings, one is ‘dumpling’ and the other is ‘precious’, often the youngest child in a family is referred to as ‘bao bao’. The dumpling she has made turns into a dumpling baby. The woman cares for the baby bao as if it were her own child.
The woman is protective of the little bao and spends all of her time looking after him.
As the little bao grows up he begins to play with the other children more, spending less time with his mother.
The mother is lonely and upset and tries everything she can to make the bao want to spend more time with her. Unfortunately for her, the harder she tries the more the bao wants to be left alone to hang out with his friends.
One day he brings back a girl he is engaged to, he packs his things and is about to head out of the door, when suddenly the mother slams the door and begs him to stay. The pair argue and as the bao frantically runs to the door the mother picks him up and eats him.
Horrified by what she has just done, the mother breaks down in to tears. We then see her lying on her bed still crying to herself, when there is a knock on the door and a boy, who strongly resembles the bao walks in and tries to console her.
It is at this moment that the audience becomes aware that the bao was completely allegorical and was simply a representation of her relationship with her son. At the end the mother, father, son and his fiancé are all sitting around the dinner table making dumplings.
Before Bao, Pixar had created 35 short films, all directed by men. Domee Shi is the first female director of a short film at Pixar. She began at the company seven years ago at the age of 21 after completing Pixars summer internship, where she predominantly worked on storyboarding.
She has been offered the role of director for a feature length film with Pixar, and is currently in the early development stages. It is fantastic that Pixar are beginning to diversify their selection of directors and writers, as this not only means that different groups of people are being given these amazing opportunities, but also that the stories Pixar tell will be more unique and interesting.
The writer and director Domee Shi is an only child, and felt throughout her life her mother and father were very overprotective and smothering, and this is where the inspiration for ‘Bao’ first originated. From conception of the idea to completion the process of making this short took about four years. Domee had had the idea for a long time, and so when Pixar was asking people to pitch ideas for a short film she seized the opportunity and got the job. As the studio prioritises its feature length films it meant that Domee had to work on the short film whenever enough people were available to help, and had to do lots of the work on her weekends.
A truly brilliant short film, definitely worth watching. I am excited to see what Domee will do next as I thought she created a very funny, sincere and witty story about a mother and sons relationship.