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Canada’s Domee Shi Explains Her Appetizing New Pixar Short

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With Bao—now playing in theatres before Incredibles 2—Canadian filmmaker Domee Shi became the first woman ever to direct a short for Pixar. The story of an aging mother who forms a powerful parental bond with a dumpling, this short owes a debt to the Chinese immigrant community in Canada according to Pixar’s official synopsis. More specifically, Shi took inspiration from her own mother. Speaking to Thrillist, the filmmaker elaborated on the origins of this appetizing twist on child-parent relations:

“My mom would often hold me close and say, ‘Aw, I wish I could put you back in my stomach, so I knew exactly where you were at all times.’ Like, ‘Aw, that’s creepy but sweet,’ I guess. We’ve all experienced it. It’s that sensation of when you see something so cute you could just eat it up—or you just want to squeeze it until it pops.”

At eight minutes, Bao is probably too short for a spoiler alert, but consider yourself warned because Shi has some interesting things to say about the film’s provocative ending. To put it bluntly, the mother eats her offspring.

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“It felt like such a shocking but inevitable end to their relationship because he’s such a naughty little boy, but also a dumpling [so] that of course she would eat him to prevent him from leaving,” she explained, revealing that her mentor Pete Docter (director of Monsters, Inc., Up, and Inside Out) insisted she keep this finale. “He heard my altered version of the pitch and he was like, ‘No you have to pitch to them your original ending. Don’t wimp out. Just embrace the weirdness.’”

While Shi was nervous that kids might have trouble digesting the short’s true intent—regarding the difficulty parents have letting go of their growing kids—an interaction after a recent screening put her mind at ease. “This little girl, I think she was 9 or 10, came up to us afterwards and she was like, ‘I love this short. I love the dumpling so much. I turned to my mom after and I said, You better not eat me when I go off to college.’ I was like, ‘That’s amazing. She got it.’”

You can see Bao before Incredibles 2 in theatres now. For a quick taste, check out the clip below.