Director Domee Shi said she grew up loving filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro and said she “can’t believe” that the animated movie Turning Red was competing against Pinocchio for the Bafta.
The 33-year-old actress said she did a comedy about growing up to guide her 13-year-old self through “the turbulent experience of adolescence” and wanted to highlight her Chinese-Canadian heritage in the movie starring Sandra Oh and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan. .
Shi told the PA news agency: “I’m thrilled with this opportunity to truly highlight my culture and heritage from a Chinese immigrant family from Toronto, Canada, and really use this backdrop to tell this universal story of growth, but one we’ve never seen before on the world stage. with the lens.
“It was a lot of fun researching specific Chinese dishes the character would cook at home, such as meatballs and special meals that her parents would make for her down to the little details in her family. temple and that ancestor worship and really sharing this part of Chinese culture with the world was super cool.
“But it also shows that although my background is very different from many other people in the audience, we have a lot in common.
“We’ve all been horribly embarrassed by our mothers at some point, we’ve all fallen head over heels in love with classmates, musicians, boy band members, and we’re all the same about probably not wanting to go back to age 13.”
On Thursday, Turning Red was nominated for best animated feature film by Dean Fleischer Camp, alongside Marcel The Shell With Shoes On, Joel Crawford’s Puss in Boots, and Del Toro’s Pinocchio.
Shi told PA: “It’s incredible that his[Del Toro’s]movie is competing with my movie. I grew up loving Pan’s Labyrinth and all of his work to rival a movie production hero, it’s so awesome I can’t believe I’m here.
Shi said the Turning Red cast made the movie “1,000 times better than I could have imagined,” specifically choosing US actress Oh, who plays the character of Ming Lee.
He said: “I think it adds a lot of depth and nuance to Ming’s character, which can easily come off as one-dimensional or dragon lady tiger mother cliché on paper.
“But his approach to each line from the emotional impulse of ‘I just want to protect my daughter, I love her so much that I don’t want anything bad to happen to her’ really helped sell many of the harsher words. or scenes.
“And he is so funny, Sandra is so funny. She’s one of those rare actresses who can really easily switch between drama and comedy. In the third act, he brought this evil, funny beast voice for Ming and that was it.
“Initially our plan was to put a deep and scary effect on her voice, but she got there and then suddenly it went to the empathetic, emotionally hurt mother.”
Shi also described it as a “labor of love” that first presented the film to Pixar in 2017 and made it during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He told PA: “I think when you watch the movie you can understand that it’s a lot of fun to do. We revived most of them from home and it has been almost like an escape for many of us dealing with the uncertainty of the pandemic and the world.
“I really wanted this movie to feel like an oasis where we could all come and play with our teenage selves and turn it into something we can all celebrate and be proud of.
“You can really feel that positive energy when you watch the movie, we were all trying to do something fun and joyful that celebrates growth, women and Chinese culture.”