ASIAN VOICES

‘Bao,’ First Female-Directed Pixar Short, Wins Best Animated Short Oscar

Domee Shi, who's Chinese-Canadian, is the first woman to direct a Pixar original short.

A story about a li’l dumpling just won an Oscar. 

“Bao” took home the award for Best Animated Short, presented by rapper and actress Awkwafina and comedian John Mulaney, at Sunday’s Academy Awards. The film, helmed by Chinese-Canadian Domee Shi, marks the first Pixar original short directed by a woman. 

“To all the nerdy girls out there who hide behind their sketchbooks, don’t be afraid to tell your stories to the world,” Shi, who accepted the award with producer Becky Neiman-Cobb, told the crowd. “You’re gonna freak people out but you will probably connect with them too.”

The short centers around a Chinese mother who grapples with empty nest syndrome. When one of her dumplings springs to life, she gets another stab at motherhood. But her little boy bao doesn’t stay cute and small forever. 

 

The film draws from Shi’s experiences growing up in Toronto’s Chinese community and has earned praise for illustrating the familiar tug between Chinese and Western cultures that so many kids of immigrant families grapple with. 

While many Asian viewers appreciated seeing recognizable elements of their own lives on screen, some non-Asian viewers found the short confusing or even laughable.  

But many Asians swiftly freaked out at “Bao’s” win. 

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