Our favourite movie from the Vancouver Asian Film Festival was The Donut King. It is a documentary film that tells the story of a Cambodian immigrant who built a doughnut empire in California, and helped other Cambodian refugees start a new life. Everything iconic from the pink box to donut culture to this date is from this community. This film premiered this year!

The story follows the donut king himself Ted Ngoy and highlights other members of the community. The documentary does a great job in highlighting the historic events and hellish war that consumed Cambodia and how Ted escaped with his life into America, how from having nothing he built an empire, and then his decline due to a bunch of problematic personal issues.

The cinematography was fantastic in this film – it shows the down-to-earth mom and pop shops while maintaining a cheery tone with pops of colour. But despite the fast-paced section of big business, the film does a good job in slowing down and interlacing the seriousness of history that goes hand-in-hand with the documentary.

Overall, what I liked about this film was as much as it celebrated the rise of this community, it definitely highlighted the deep hardships that go on within a family, within a community and within business itself. I also find it particularly refreshing to see the fruition of an American Dream of an older generation affect an younger generation who maintains this legacy in their own unique way. I also had no clue what happened in Cambodia and what hell they went through either, so this film really taught me a lot about a history unknown about the insurgency in Cambodia, Pol Pot, and Khmer Rouge.

I really recommend this film, especially for all audiences. I feel like an American audience would love this film as well because the donut is so iconic, so seeing part of its origins besides Winchell’s and Dunkin’s is the fun part of this film!