BAO (steamed buns), which is set in Toronto, is just 7 minutes and 42 seconds long, but it packs a powerful emotional and aesthetic punch.
BAO, the story is about a lonely Chinese mother suffering from empty nest syndrome who is thrilled to become a parent again when one of her homemade bao (steamed buns) comes to life. As bao grows, however, the inevitable conflicts between parent and child arise and Mom must acknowledge that no one strays little forever.
Shi, the director, was born in Chongqing, China but settled with her family in Toronto by the age of 3, graduated from the renowned animation program at Oakville’s Sheridan College in 2011. She is the first woman ever to direct a short film for Pixar. The film was shown to audiences in theaters ahead of Disney/Pixar’s Incredibles 2 beginning in June.
There’s an expectation in many Asian communities for children to stay with their families until marriage, a lifestyle choice that is often sharply juxtaposed with the Westernized notion of children leaving the house at 18 and not coming back.
We were deeply touched by this short film not only because bao is what we are making and serving, but also because it reflects a struggle of two cultural norms that children of immigrants from all backgrounds often have to face, and seeing it on screen was an emotional experience for many of us.