Grab a Box of Tissues and Watch Bao, The Toronto-Set Short That Won an Oscar

The CN-Tower made a surprise appearance at last night's ceremony.

It seems that the members of the Academy have a sweet affinity for the city landscape of their chilly, northern neighbour. On the heels of last year’s best picture win for A Shape of Water—the Guillermo del Toro fish sex film shot in recognizable scenes around the 6ix—the Oscar for Best Animated Short went to Bao, a film about a Chinese-Canadian woman raising her dumpling child in Toronto’s Spadina Street Chinatown.

Accepting the award was Domee Shi, a graduate of the animation program at Sheridan College, whose family moved to Toronto from Chongquing, China when she was three years old. Shi wrote and directed the film, becoming the first woman ever to direct a Pixar short and the first female director nominated for Best Animated Short since the Oscars debuted the category in 1932. And now, the award’s first female winner.

“For all of the nerdy girls who hide behind their sketchbooks, don’t be afraid to tell your stories to the world,” said Shi in her acceptance speech, standing alongside Becky Neiman-Cobb, the film’s producer.  “You’re going to freak people out, but you’ll probably connect with them too and that’s an amazing feeling to have.”

Bao, much like the Pixar shorts that came before it, is imaginative, endearing, a little bit bizarre and absolutely heartbreaking. “Bao was a moving love letter that every immigrant Asian mom and adult child could relate to,” said Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam on Twitter after Shi’s win. “I know it represented a part of my own Toronto story. Thank you Domee Shi for telling it so beautifully.”

Watch Bao, a short film that first premiered to audiences in theatres ahead of Disney/Pixar’s Incredibles 2 in June, below. You may want to set yourself up in a private space and remove any eye makeup before pressing play.

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