Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"It's part of a long cinematic tradition. It's also adorable."

Bao are dumplings, spongy steamed delicacies - I had some last with my little sister, recently returned from a stint teaching in China. It's not just that personal association between food and family that makes this short film so special.

I've long been a big fan of short films, and Pixar's pairings of preceding shorts to parent features is one of their most endearing habits. Screening with Incredibles 2, it's part of a long cinematic tradition. It's also adorable.

The first Pixar short to be directed by a woman, it's a touching and delightful work by Pixar alum Domee Shi. She's done work on previous Pixar features (including the Incredibles sequel) but this is a brilliant progression from work as a story(board) artist. It's a real indicator of talent, a treat. Pixar know what they are doing, and Domee Shi does too.

A lady makes dumplings, and one of them grows up. That's not the whole of it, but it's too brief (perfectly sized) to discuss otherwise without the risk of spoiling it. The audience I saw it with laughed as I did, but I can't say if they were moved as close to tears as I was. I was very close to calling my mum as soon as I saw it, but time zones (and the following feature) got in the way. I've spoken to her since though, and have made an appointment to get some Char-Sui buns. The best films leave you wanting more, though nonetheless satisfied, and Bao did just that - sweet but meaty, light but fulfilling, it's as much of a delight as its namesake, and indicative of the same quantity of careful work. You should see Incredibles 2 on its own merit, but Bao is a perfect appetiser. But viewer beware. I mean that literally - make sure you know where the nearest Chinese restaurant is before you see it.

Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2018
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Bao packshot
A Chinese-Canadian woman suffering from an empty nest gets a second shot at motherhood when one of her handmade dumplings comes alive.

Director: Domee Shi

Writer: Domee Shi

Starring: Daniel Kailin, Sindy Lau

Year: 2018

Runtime: 8 minutes

Country: US


EIFF 2018

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