The Donut King

Hard knocks, redemption, wealth, survival, risk, and donuts—Ted Ngoy’s life story has it all. It’s the American Dream, with a (glazed) twist.

The Donut King pub still
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
May 24, 2021
90 minutes

Alice Gu

A Los Angeles native, Alice began her career as a Director of Photography, working with renowned directors Werner Herzog, Stacy Peralta, and Rory Kennedy, among others. Her commercial clients for print and live action include TBWA/ Chiat Day, Media Arts Lab, Deutsche, Edelman, Berlin Cameron, Cole & Weber, Pereira & O’Dell, Doremus, Publicis, Show more Beats by Dre, Laird Hamilton, ESPN, FIFA, NFL, NHL, NBA, the WSL, Apple, Peta, and the American Humane Association. “Take Every Wave: the Life of Laird Hamilton” made its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017, a documentary film directed by Academy Award nominated director, Rory Kennedy, and lensed by Alice Gu. “The Donut King” is Alice’s feature directorial debut and has been selected to premiere in competition at SXSW 2020. A feature-length documentary about the rise and fall of a Cambodian refugee turned donut tycoon, “The Donut King” is executive produced by Academy Award-winner Freida Lee Mock and produced by Logan Content in association with Scott Free Productions. Alice is following up her directorial debut with helming a whistle-blower documentary currently in pre- production with Logan Content, slated to begin in April 2020 as well as her episodic directorial debut, set to be announced later this year. Show less

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The Film

In 1975, Ted Ngoy escaped the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, arriving in America via Camp Pendleton, California. Starting as a gas station janitor, he parlayed diligence and luck into the purchase of his first donut shop, launching an unlikely multi-million dollar fried pastry empire. Starting in Orange County, California, his Christy’s Doughnuts consortium continued to expand, providing a unique opportunity for Ngoy to lend a helping hand to his former countrymen and women. He sponsored hundreds of visas for incoming Cambodian refugees and offered them steady employment in his donut shops. By the mid-1980s, Ngoy was living his version of the American Dream: owner of multiple homes, driving fancy cars, taking lavish vacations, and officially becoming an American citizen. But a great rise often comes with a great fall. The Donut King explores immigration, assimilation, prejudice, and who gets access to The American Dream—and what happens when you achieve it.