Domee Shi (‘Bao’) on her parents’ influence for Animated Short contender [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Domee Shi explains that her inspiration for her animated short film, “Bao,” came from three areas, but the biggest was her parents. In our recent chat (watch the video above), she reveals that it came from “my own life growing up as an only child to my super Chinese mom and dad. Ever since I was little, they’ve always treated me like their precious, little dumpling, always protecting me, making sure I’m safe, making sure I never went out and never had a life outside of their little realm.” Joking aside, Shi adds, “I wanted to use this short as a way to explore that relationship between an over-protective mom and a baby dumpling and show how the bittersweetness of letting something go even though you love it so much.”

Her second bit of inspiration came from her being a “total foodie” and looking for any excuse to do “research” and draw a lot of food. Her last piece of inspiration came from her love of fairy tales and how they “explore the light and dark elements and aren’t afraid to expose that dark side of life to kids because I think it’s really important that we don’t protect or shield our kids from that.”

The Pixar short was very widely seen as it played alongside this past summer’s blockbuster, “The Incredibles 2.” The short focuses on an older Chinese-Canadian woman, who finds that one of her homemade dumplings comes to life. She nurtures it and raises it but as it gets older, it starts getting more rebellious until it finally leaves home leaving the mother heartbroken.

The short also gave Shi an unforgettable moment in not only being able to show the film to her parents, but getting to take her mother to the premiere of “Incredibles 2,” where it screened. Shi says that her mother was taking pictures of every step that she took on the red carpet and was really proud of her. She also got a very positive response from her dad, which carried it’s own level of importance. “He’s an artist himself, he’s a painter, and I got into art and animation largely because of him. So, in classic Asian dad fashion, when I asked him, ‘What did you think of the short? Did you like it?’ He said, ‘Yes, I liked it a lot, but I have some notes about the colors.'”

On Monday, the crew from “Bao” got some really good news when it was announced that it was one of the 10 selections for the Best Animated Short Film shortlist at the upcoming Academy Awards. The film’s producer, Becky Neiman-Cobb, said her reaction to the news was that she instantly started sweating and breathing crazily when she saw it in a text message. Shi says, “It didn’t hit me until people started coming up to me and congratulating me. It’s just an honor and it’s so cool to be among such talented filmmakers, so fingers crossed!” Neimann-Cobb adds, “I also don’t want to get too excited but getting this far is crazy cool and hard to believe!”

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