Meet the real Miss America

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The American dream — and its dark side — is an endlessly fascinating subject for novelists, songwriters and film-makers, probably because it continues to be such a real part of the American psyche. When, while on a road trip in 2006, director Sam Huntley stopped off at Zoomer's Treasures, a run-down curiosity shop on a Kansas highway, he found all the optimism, bitterness, joy and despair encapsulated in its eccentric owner Mary DeBoutez Zellmer-Fenoglio. So much so, in fact, that he decided to go back and make a film about her.

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Zoomer, a feature-length documentary, is a record of the time that Huntley spent with Zellmer-Fenoglio, learning her unusual story. By all accounts, Zoomer is the kind of person usually dismissed (for want of a subtler phrase) as "poor white trash" — brassy blonde hair, stone-washed denim and a penchant for small fire-arms and swear words. It's true that Zoomer and her extended circle provide some inadvertently comic moments, but her admirable drive to better herself, to defy the impoverishment, limitations and — as we discover —tragedy of her god-given circumstances, has a poignancy that transcends cheap laughs.

Huntley, who directed the brilliant multi-award winning short "Polish Your Shoes", plans to enter Zoomer into forthcoming international film festivals, so be sure to watch out for it. For more information visit zoomerfilm.com