A bowl of soymilk and some baozi, or steamed buns, is a typical Chinese breakfast. Who would have thought that this simple meal would become a leading character in a movie, and even win an Oscar? Œ
On Feb 25, Disney-Pixar’s short film Bao took home this year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Short. In the movie, a small steamed bun springs to life and becomes the child of a lonely Chinese woman.
Domee Shi, Pixar’s first female Chinese-Canadian director, was inspired by her own mother. When Shi grew up, she was always working outside the home. Shi spent little time with her mother, which made her reflect on their relationship.
“My mom would often hold me close and say, ‘I wish I could put you back in my stomach so I knew exactly where you were at all times,’” Shi told US-based media Thrillist.
Bao explores the themes of empty nest syndrome, emotional attachment and the effects of being an overprotective parent in the movie, The Hollywood Reporter noted.
In the film, many details show the way the Chinese woman loves her “son”. She prepares feasts, cleans up the house carefully and always buys “him” fresh pastries. These details are true to the strong and protective love of Chinese parents for their children.
But as Bao grows up, he wants to have his own life. He plays out late with his friend, refusing to come home at his curfew. He knows that there is a big world out there, but can’t cut his mother’s apron strings.
In Bao, the children of immigrants actually also love their parents, but because they have to fit in with the culture, they sometimes ignore their parents’ pain.
So, how should children like this show their parents that they love them? In her acceptance speech, Shi had a message for all children: “out there who hide behind their sketchbooks, don’t be afraid to tell your stories to the world”.