In case you somehow missed the hype, after a 14-year hiatus Pixar's favourite superhero-family the Incredibles are returning to Shanghai cinemas this weekend in a sequel that – if the original is anything to go by – is set to be an instant classic. An added bonus: Bao, the Pixar short film proceeding the movie, is a funny but powerful ode to mums which uses a dumpling to explore parent-child relationships.
The 'creepy but sweet', as director Domee Shi puts in an interview with Thrillist, eight-minute short (Pixar's longest) follows an older Chinese mother dealing with empty nest syndrome. She gets a second go at new motherhood when a teeny-tiny dumpling she's about to eat pops a body, arms and legs and turns into a bao-baby. According to Pixar, as the baby quickly grows into a cute kid and onto an awkward adolescent, the lesson we learn is 'Nothing stays cute and small forever'.
Photograph: courtesy Pixar/Bao
Not only has China-born, Canada-raised Shi made history as the first woman to direct a Pixar short in the still male-dominated industry, she also shares and explores the experiences and stories of Chinese immigrant communities, that in an interview with Vogue, she says she felt there was 'a lack of' on screen.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Shi talks about her inspirations for the short, explaining it 'mainly came from my own life. Growing up I was that overprotected little dumpling for my Chinese mom... And I just wanted to explore that relationship between an overprotective parent and their child with a dumpling as a metaphor, as weird as that sounds...'
As for what she learned in the process? Shi tells Vogue 'I definitely understand [my mom] a little better. The mom character is the main character, so I had to put myself in her point of view... Making the short, I feel more empathy toward parents who experience empty-nest syndrome. Your whole life is raising this kid, and they’re your everything, and then they’re gone.'
Catch the Bao trailer below, and see the eight-minute short before the Incredibles 2, out in cinemas now.