Abacus: Small Enough to Jail 2016

Directed by Steve James Framing Reality

A small family-owned bank serving Chinatown businesses, Abacus was the only US lender indicted for fraud post 2008. Steve James (Hoop Dreams) embeds with the Sung family through their spirited fight for vindication.

Jul 24

Academy Cinema

Jul 25

Rialto Cinemas Newmarket

Jul 26

Rialto Cinemas Newmarket

Aug 05

Academy Cinema

USA In Cantonese, English and Mandarin with English subtitles
88 minutes Colour and B&W / DCP
E

Director

Producers

Mark Mitten
,
Julie Goldman

Photography

Tom Bergmann

Editors

John Farbrother
,
David E. Simpson

Music

Joshua Abrams

With

Thomas Sung
,
Jill Sung
,
Vera Sung
,
Heather Sung
,
Hwei Lin Sung
,
Chanterelle Sung
,
Cyrus Vance Jr
,
Polly Greenberg
,
Neil Barofsky
,
Kevin Puvalowski
,
Rusty Wing
,
Yiu Wah Wong
,
Sam Talkin
,
Matt Taibbi
,
Jiayang Fan

Festivals

Toronto
,
New York
,
Amsterdam Documentary 2016

Elsewhere

Steve James (Hoop Dreams) takes us deep into the business and culture of New York’s Chinatown as he explores the fortunes of Abacus, the only US bank ever indicted for fraud in connection with the subprime mortgage scandal of the late 00s. As journalist Matt Taibbi explains, the banks actually responsible for the crisis were all deemed “too big to fail… and Abacus [with a mere six branches] is small enough to jail.”

Thomas Sung, a Chinese-American lawyer, founded the bank in the 50s to invigorate Chinatown businesses, themselves often family-owned and unsupported by the major banks. Sung’s sense of mission, carried forward by his formidable daughters, is severely tested by a District Attorney’s office that is determined to make an example of them, oblivious to the race-baiting implications of such a punitive stance. Succinctly outlining the nexus of history and culture in which they find themselves targeted, James holds close to the Sungs through their five-year battle. His family portrait is sharp, funny and stirring.

“An exemplary piece of filmmaking, an investigation into two kinds of double standards.” — Tom Charity, Sight & Sound

Screening With This Feature

East Meets East 2017

Director

4 minutes

World Premiere Loading Docs

A Chinese grandmother finds kinship on her bus trip to the Asian supermarket.