The 2019 Academy Award nominations include a cute and fluffy Canadian face this year. Bao, an animated film by Pixar artist Domee Shi, the first female director to lead a Pixar short film, received a nomination in the Best Animated Short Film category.
Bao follows the story of a Chinese mother who’s suffered from what some might call empty nest syndrome. She gains a new sense of motherly joy when one of her dumplings comes to life, until her little dumpling quickly grows up too.
Shi was born in China and moved to Toronto with her family when she was two. The story is partially inspired by Shi’s family and her mother. The word “bao” can refer to a Chinese steamed bun but it also means something that is “precious.” The Pixar team working on Bao made frequent trips to Chinatown to photograph dumplings for inspiration and Shi’s mom also travelled to California to teach dumpling making to Pixar animators.
“When you see the opening shot of the dumplings being made, those hands are my mom’s hands,” Shi said in an interview Sheridan College’s alumni magazine. “We almost just copied her techniques one-for-one onto the screen.”
The film gained significant attention when it played in theatres ahead of the box office hit Incredibles 2 last June. The 91st Academy Awards will take place on Feb. 24 at 8:00 p.m. EST.