Back in 20018, Pixar released “Bao” in front of their hotly anticipated Incredibles 2. The short was insanely charming and deeply moving, a tale of family told in the most fantastical way. Written and directed by Pixar story artist Domee Shi, it also signaled the arrival of a major new talent with a singular point of view. (When “Bao” won the Oscar for Best Animated Short, it was the first time a woman of color had achieved that.) Now, Pixar has announced her debut feature, Turning Red, scheduled for release on March 11, 2022, which genuinely feels like an eternity away.
While details about cast and who will be supporting Shi creatively remain scarce, Pixar chief creative officer (and director for the studio’s latest masterpiece Soul) Pete Docter shared a snippet of animation and an image from the film and described it as a rousing coming-of-age comedy during yesterday’s lengthy, news-filled Disney Investor Day call. And the official synopsis reads like this: “Meet Mei: she experiences the awkwardness of being a teenager, with an added twist: when she gets too excited, she transforms into a giant red panda.” Shi, on Instagram, described the movie as: “Puberty! Asians! Red Pandas!” Yes, we are very excited.
The art style of the image used is super unique and clearly influenced by Eastern animation, which no Pixar feature has ever really flirted with. And the movie will be the first true Pixar feature directed by a woman (Brenda Chapman was infamously removed from Brave a year before the movie was released), which is (obviously) super exciting too.
Starting in 2019 Shi (who was born in China and raised in Canada) became a part of Pixar’s Brain Trust, a group of filmmakers that advise and guide on every Pixar feature in an effort to steer it towards the best quality film it can be. She is clearly one of the brightest new stars at Pixar and we cannot wait to be transformed by the world of Turning Red on March 11, 2022.