Domee Shi Becomes First Woman At Pixar To Direct A Short Film ‘Bao’

Bao, the Pixar short that will likely screen in front of The Incredibles 2, is set to debut on April 21st as part of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

Written and directed by Chinese-Canadian-American artist Domee Shi, it is notably the first of Pixar’s 20 shorts in 32 years to be helmed by a female director. The eight-minute film is produced by Becky Neiman-Cobb and executive produced by Pete Docter and John Lasseter. The film is scored by Toby Chu (Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, Unforgettable, NBC’s The Brave).

According to the Tribeca festival description, Bao is about an “empty-nesting Chinese mom who gets another chance at motherhood when one of her dumplings springs to life, but she must come to terms with the bittersweet revelation that nothing stays cute and small forever.”

Shi, a 2011 Sheridan grad, started as a story intern at Pixar that same year. She has since worked as a story artist on Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, and Toy Story 4.

UPDATE (3/30/18) The first still of the film’s main characters has been released, as well as a piece of character development art of the dumpling character. New information about the film has been revealed in this Entertainment Weekly article.

LOS ANGELES, April 1 (Xinhua) — Domee Shi, director of Pixar’s new short animation film “Bao” , became the first female short director in history of the California-based studio, one of the best computer animation film studios in the world.

“Bao” , a seven-and-half minute short film, will be released as the appetizer to the Pixar Animation Studios’ major superhero animation film “Incredibles 2” this summer, which is scheduled to be showed on June 15.

“Bao” is about a Chinese-Canadian woman suffering from the depression of an empty nest, who gets a second shot at motherhood when one of her handmade dumplings comes alive.

Two images of the short film was exposed by the Entertainment Weekly online Friday and attracted enthusiastic response from fans.

“Oh. My. GOD!!!!!!!! Pixar + dumplings = nirvana” a tweeter user Justine Chen wrote.

Benjamin Law, an Australian author and journalist, tweeted “stop it Pixar, I am only now recovering from COCO and now you give me this Asian diaspora short about a heartbroken mother and dumplings, what are you trying to do, kill me?”

Entertainment Weekly reported that the film was based on Shi’s experiences as a child of Chinese immigrants in Canada. Shi was quoted as saying she was inspired by an idea that she often felt she was treated by mom like a precious little dumpling.

“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.”

Shi came to Toronto from China with her family when she was two, according to The Disney blog. She grew up in the North York area, completed Sheridan College’s well-regarded Animation program, and went on to intern at Pixar Animation Studios in California.

The report said after Shi presented concept images at a studio-wide meeting of Pixar, employees with Asian and immigrant parents contacted her and producer Becky Neiman-Cobb, eager to work on the film.

“It felt like a really universally appealing story that a lot of people could identify with,” Shi told Entertainment Weekly, “We got a ton of e-mails from people identifying with the mom character, or the dumpling character, saying, ‘Wait, that’s me,’ or ‘That’ s my parents,’ or ‘I’ m dealing with this right now.’ ”