Rags To Riches Doc ‘The Donut King’, About Rise & Fall Of Cambodian Refugee Ted Ngoy, To Be Sold By Independent

03 June 2020


London, 3rd June 2020  Independent has boarded sales on THE DONUT KING, which was previously due to premiere in this year’s SXSW Documentary Feature Competition lineup before the fest’s cancellation due to Covid. The film went on to receive a Special Jury Award recognizing Achievement in Documentary Storytelling from the SXSW Jury. Scott Free Productions serves as one of the film’s producers.

THE DONUT KING is the directorial debut of Alice Gu, whose career in film began as a cinematographer. The film was inspired by a conversation with her babysitter about the origin of “Cambodian Donuts”, and in her subsequent research she discovered the incredible story of Ted Ngoy, the titular Donut King.

Producers are Tom Moran for Scott Free, Jose Nunez, Alice Gu, and Farhad Amid. Ridley Scott serves as Executive Producer for Scott Free, with Freida Lee Mock, Andres Rosillo, Juliana Lemus, and Jonny Hwang also serving as Executive Producers.

The film tells the rags to riches story of Ted Ngoy, a refugee who escaped Cambodia, arrived in America and 1975, and built an unlikely multi-million dollar empire baking America’s favourite pastry, the donut. Ted sponsored hundreds of visas for incoming refugees and helped them get on their feet teaching them the ways of the donut business. By 1979 he was living the American Dream. But, in life, great rise can come with great falls.

Independent will introduce the project to international buyers at this year’s Virtual Marche du Film. CAA are handling domestic rights.

Director Alice Gu says “As the child of immigrant parents who came to America to seek a better life for themselves, making this film about Ted Ngoy achieving the American Dream was deeply personal for me.  Though The Donut King’s  story takes place in America, the immigrant experience is a common and shared experience by millions of people all over the world.  I hope audiences will delight in this new perspective on the sweet treat and, perhaps, open some hearts and minds.”

Producer Farhad Amid says ‘I take great pride in having been part of this beautiful and touching film, particularly now, as anti-immigrant rhetoric has become a consistent and defining feature in American politics.  It is vital that we continue to tell stories like Ted Ngoy’s to advance the national discourse about immigration, dispel the terrible myths about immigrants, and hopefully inspire some empathy along the way.  Ted Ngoy’s story is one of sacrifice, triumph, failure and redemption.  Or what I would call, the American Dream.’

Producer Jose Nunez says: ‘According to a 2019 United Nations report, the global refugee population is at the highest ever recorded, and has nearly doubled since 2012. It was of paramount importance for us to tell Ted’s story in 2020 being that it is an election year in the US. As we constantly experience refugees all over the world portrayed in a negative light, we hoped to share a refugee’s success story.  Though not a perfect man, Ted rose above adversity and achieved beyond imaginable success, all while contributing greatly to his adoptive country.’

Producer Tom Moran says: ‘It’s a great opportunity to work with talented filmmakers. Alice is a rising star and has crafted a timely story. We are so happy for Alice and her team for making such a special film.’

Head of Sales at Independent, Sarah Lebutsch says : ‘We were completely captivated and immediately won over by the story of the Donut King and Alice’s fresh filmmaking style. This is a film for our times, delivering a fully rounded portrait of someone who helped so many, but still remains a complex character. Be warned you will want a box of donuts immediately after viewing!’

Alice Gu is repped by Gersh.


Editor Notes

About Independent

INDEPENDENT specializes in the development, financing, production and sales of independent feature films. Led by CEO Luc Roeg, COO Cora Palfrey and Managing Director Andrew Orr, Independent has a team of highly motivated and experienced professionals with expertise in project development, production, structured finance, sales and marketing.

Independent acquires third party rights to manage through its sales division. Latest titles include the documentary The Art of Political Murder executive produced by George Clooney and Blinder Films’ The Racer, a sports drama set in the world of Tour de France. A Good Woman is Hard to Find, directed by Abner Pastoll and released by Film Movement in the US this May,  and Dirty God, directed by Sacha Polak, which was in official selection at both Sundance and Rotterdam.

Upcoming titles include Gavin Rothery’s sci-fi Archive and Michael Arden’s The Book of Ruth.

Previously the sales team worked on Jim Jarmusch’s Gimme Danger, Duncan Jones’ Moon, Michael Winterbottom’s On the Road, Banksy’s Exit Through the Giftshop and many more.

See: http://www.independentfilmcompany.com

Further press information

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