After covering the meteoric rise of actress Zazzie Beetz, it’s time to take our admiration behind the lens, or in this case, behind the computer.
Hollywood acts as a male dominant industry, but slowly but surely we’ve thankfully been apart of the emergence of a diverse industry. Now, by no means is it perfect, but in all honesty what is?
Well, one thing is for certain, Canadian-Chinese filmmaker Domee Shi’s eye for art is as close as it gets.
In the summer of 2018, Domee Shi becomes the first female director in Pixar’s 32 going on 33-year history. With the release of the long-awaited sequel Incredibles 2, fans were given a short but savoury treat with a short film entitled Bao, capturing the minds, hearts and stomachs of both audiences and evidently critics.
As a lover of anime and a student of the films done by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, it’s clear that she carries a bit of inspiration into her work. With a love for subtle details, particularly in facial expressions, it’s that characteristic that makes Bao such a treat to watch.
Born on the other side of the globe in 1989 in Chongqing, China, Shi experienced life as an only child before immigrating to Canada at the young age of two with her parents. Prior to moving to Toronto, her father, had already exposed her to the world of art as he was a college professor of fine arts and a landscape painter in China. Throughout her press run prior to the release of Incredibles 2, she expresses how her father helped shape her vision with art. Shi’s mother helped sculpt Shi’s first motion picture citing her mother as the inspiration of the film. In her interview with NOW Toronto, Shi states
It was loosely inspired by my life growing up as an only child – you know, my mom was super overprotective of me. She always treated me like a little precious dumpling. So I decided to make a story about this little precious dumpling who wants to break free from his overprotective mom.
Not only did Bao show deep appreciation to the Chinese culture, Shi made it an initiative to show intricate details and Easter eggs of her childhood home in Toronto, Ontario.
As a minority filmmaker, Domee Shi broke down barriers for underrepresented filmmakers all across the globe with her recent Oscar nomination for her animated short film, Bao. As a Chinese-Canadian director, Shi was able to integrate her love for her culture and her love for the city that raised her to best represent what the film stood for, herself.
To her credit, Shi seemed more than prepared for an opportunity as pivotal as creating history. The now 30 years old first dipped her toes working on a feature film 2015’s Inside Out as a storyboard artist. After briefly working on The Good Dinosaur, she began working on Toy Story 4 in 2015. Concurrently she also drew storyboards for the 2018 film Incredibles 2, all the while trying to create her vision with a short film under immense pressure.
What Shi represents to the minority community is far more than just a director, Shi represents a glimmer of hope. With more and more minorities migrating from Asian countries to Canada, Shi is seen breaking down barriers that have been up for 32 years too long.
With the recent news that Shi has been tasked to direct an animated feature film for Pixar, the world is more likely than not seeing the career of a young trailblazer blossom right before our very eyes.