All about 'Bao': Pixar's new animated short precedes Incredibles 2 in theatres and already has the audience charmed
As the name implies, 'Bao' directly translates into the steamed buns made at any traditional Chinese household.
Imagine if your food could talk. If your favorite dish grew legs and arms and a face that could melt hearts. Drawing inspiration from all such things that are mundane yet simply heartwarming is Chinese Canadian animator Domee Shi's latest short film for Pixar, 'Bao'. It is currently being screened in theaters before Incredibles 2, and already has the audience ugly crying, some even declared that 'Bao' trumps Incredibles 2.
As the name implies, 'Bao', directly translates into the steamed buns made in any traditional Chinese household. But apart from the obvious food reference, there's a pun hidden in the title. Depending on the pronunciation, according to Shi, 'Bao' could also mean a treasure or something precious.
"We thought that'd be the perfect pun, title for this short about this precious little steam bun. And actually, the official Chinese title for it is 'Bao Bao Bao', so it's like bao three times, but it actually just means baby pal," explained Shi, who with her latest Pixar credit has also become the first woman to direct a short for the studio.
Indeed, with an adorable animated dumpling created with everyday life ingredients by Shi being the focus of the film, the title is more than appropriate. The story follows a Chinese woman "suffering from an empty nest" and her handmade dumpling helps her wade through it. The Pixar short has no dialogue. In Bao, the Chinese woman's homemade dumpling sprouts limbs and a face, and she treats it like her son, and as it grows up, things take a turn for the dramatic.
Bao is all about food and everyday life and throughout the first-look glimpse, one can see Shi's unique aesthetics giving rise to a myriad of emotions.
"Bao was inspired by a few of my favorite things in this world: food, cute things, and old Chinese people," Shi told Gamespot, dishing about the Pixar short. "In Chinese culture, food and family go hand in hand. When you want to show you care about someone, or that you love someone, you don't say, 'I love you.' You say, 'Have you eaten yet?'"
Food clearly takes the center stage in the film. So apart from food, it was also Shi's mother and their close-knit relationship which served as the inspiration behind all the emotions stirred by the film.
Ultimately, it all goes back to Shi's mother. "When I started to grow up, it was hard for her to let go," Shi said. "In fact, she'd often hold me close and say, 'I wish I could put you back in my stomach so I knew exactly where you were at all times',"Shi added, explaining how the story resonates with her real life. "And that creepy sweet love of a mom who learns to let go of her little dumpling was the spark that became the heart of the short."
Shi's mother, who is also referred to as the "dumpling queen" also finds a place in the film's credits.
'Bao' is currently playing in theaters, before 'Incredibles 2'.