Bao: Short Film on Chinese Mothers Won an Oscar and Many Hearts
Asia, Lifestyle, Movies

Bao: Short Film on Chinese Mothers Won an Oscar and Many Hearts 

Bao, an animated short film written and directed by Chinese-Canadian animator Domee Shi, won an Oscar for best short film at the 91st Academy Awards Sunday.

The movie, which has been produced by Pixar Animation Studios, marked the directorial debut of Shi. With Bao, Shi became the first woman to direct a short film for Pixar.

The film is about an aging and lonely Chinese-Canadian mother, suffering from empty nest syndrome, who gets a second chance at motherhood after she cooks a dumpling and it comes to life as a boy.

Shi said she took inspiration from her own mother while making the film, and took pride in showing her heritage and culture through Bao.

Four other short films were also nominated in the category – Animal Behaviour, Late Afternoon, One Small Step and Weekends.

Asian communities around the world took to social media to congratulate Shi and appreciate the film. A mother from San Francisco said, the movie spoke to her “loud and clear, through tears”.

Jonny Sun, a Canadian author and illustrator, tweeted: “bao being trashed and misunderstood by white audiences and then winning the oscar feels like a perfect metaphor for how people called so much asian food smelly and disgusting during my entire childhood only for it become celebrated now.”

Praise for the movie continued on other social media platforms as well. “Bao was something very relevant to me because I am a daughter of a Korean mother and I grew up like this – very sheltered and watched,” said one user Janice Bouhaja who watched it with her children and “cried almost during the entire short”.

Hoàng Vỹ Nguyễn, another fan from Vietnam, described the clash between “old Oriental social norms and family values” in Bao and said that she was “totally won over”.

During the Tribeca Film Festival in April last year, Bao was first premiered. The film was then shown with Incredibles 2 in theatres. Bao was freely available to stream on YouTube for a week before the Christmas holidays of 2018 – first time that Pixar made a short film available in this manner.

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