Bao tells the sentimental story of “a Chinese-Canadian woman suffering from the depression of an empty nest, who gets a second shot at motherhood when one of her handmade dumplings comes alive,” as stated by Entertainment Weekly.
Directed by Chinese-Canadian storyboard artist Domee Shi — the first female director of a Pixar short — Bao was inspired by Shi’s upbringing as an only child to Chinese immigrants. “I just wanted to create this magical, modern-day fairy tale, kind of like a Chinese Gingerbread Man story,” Shi said. “Often times it felt like my mom would treat me like a precious little dumpling, wanting to make sure I was safe, that I didn’t go out late, all that stuff.”
“The word “bao” actually means two things in Chinese,” Shi explained. “Said one way, it means steamed bun. Said another, it means something precious: a treasure. It felt like a really universally appealing story that a lot of people could identify with.”