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Homer Simpson said, “Donuts… is there something they can’t do? ” After having watched King of donuts you might be inclined to agree.

Premiering in Australia on ACMI’s on-demand streaming service Cinema 3, this award-winning documentary is a funny, captivating and at times heartbreaking take on the surprisingly vast world of California donut culture and the man who shaped it. : a Cambodian refugee became the story of the success story of a small business, Ted Ngoy.

King of donuts There are so many different things in one movie, ”said Reece Goodwin, ACMI TV and Special Events Commissioner. “It’s obviously a donut movie, but it’s a bit of a lure to attract people to this movie. There is so much going on below the surface.

Donuts might be the heart of this movie, but as director Alice Gu reveals, donuts are the heart of America too. And even for a country as immersed in American pop culture as Australia, there is still a lot to learn when it comes to this delicious treat.

“The whole donut culture in America is really different from Australia,” says Goodwin. “The idea of ​​having donuts in a pink box, and the ritual of opening the pink box and sharing the donuts with everyone else is a big part of American culture in a way we don’t have it all. just not here. “

Surprisingly, King of donuts do not start with Ngoy. Rather, we are presented to the world he built through the struggles of working for a modern family business. Start early, help your parents, grow up working behind a counter – donuts might be delicious, but they’re also a tough master.

They are also all over California. One estimate in the movie is that, on average, each American eats 31 donuts per year. That’s hardly a shock considering the constant stream of delicious donuts on display throughout this movie; if you’re cutting back on sweets, you might want to look at this one through your fingers.

“Donuts represent something about America,” says Goodwin. “It’s this huge indulgence. Americans want the biggest donut, the craziest donut they can find. I think there’s a real joy to that, and this movie really offers that indulgence. “

The other side of the coin appears in Ted Ngoy’s story and in the story of his community in America. A major in the Cambodian army, Ngoy fled the country with his family just before the Khmer Rouge, eventually settling in California. He has held several jobs, most notably as an intern at Winchell’s donut chain. There he learned the trade, then went out alone; in 1979 he had two dozen stores across California.

As the Khmer Rouge continued to drive people out of Cambodia, America welcomed a flood of refugees. They needed the sponsorship of a local family to leave the refugee camps, and “Uncle” Ted was happy to oblige, setting up a rental program that allowed other Cambodians to settle in shops in the area. donuts.

“There are so many subjects in this film who are so traumatized by what they ran away from,” Goodwin says. “It’s a really interesting juxtaposition between the trauma people carry and the light, mellow surface of the donuts they make. “

Ngoy’s story alone would suffice for a documentary, but King of donuts has more in store. California automotive culture, the rise and fall of an empire, how community members banded together to defend their livelihoods against huge corporations; it is a donut with several layers.

“I learned a lot about American culture from this movie, and I also learned a lot about donuts,” says Goodwin. “Once you open it, there are so many different stories here and they really affect the stories too.

“I think everyone will be really happy with this movie. It’s a surprise on so many levels.

King of donuts is available for rental on ACMI’s Cinema 3 online portal until October 14.

Large format sheet is a proud media partner of ACMI.

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