Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Ticket Prices
General Public:$8.50
Student w/ID (Box Office Only):$6.00
Film Info
Program:New Releases
Social Justice
Asian Interest
Release Year:2016
Runtime:88 min
Awards:2nd Place People's Choice Award - Toronto International Film Festival 2016
Mandarin Chinese
Director:Steve James
Producer:Mark Mitten
Julie Goldman
Cinematographer:Tom Bergmann
Editor:John Farbrother
David E. Simpson
Composer:Joshua Abrams
Principal Cast:Thomas Sung
Jill Sung
Vera Sung
Heather Sung
Hwei Lin Sung
Chanterelle Sung
Filmography:Hoop Dreams ('94)
Prefontaine ('97)
Stevie ('02)
Reel Paradise ('05)
At the Death House Door ('08)
The Interrupters ('11)
Head Games ('12)
Life Itself ('14)

2017 MSPIFF Official Selection

May, 2012: In the wake of the financial crisis, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. indicted Abacus, a modest bank that serves the Chinese American community of New York, and 19 of its employees on charges of fraud stemming from the sale of mortgages to Fannie Mae. And yet, the bank had a default rate of 0.5%, a tenth of the national rate, and it soon seemed apparent that Abacus was the target of a prosecutor eager to find a scapegoat for the larger industry collapse. For many, the bank was “small enough to jail,” as opposed to the enormous banks that avoided scandal. From director Steve James, who directed Hoop Dreams ('94), one of the most celebrated documentaries of all time, comes Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, an examination of the bank’s defense and of the Sung family, whose diligence and faith kept it afloat.


91% Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes

"James spins a fascinating and complex web involving lies, fraud, a months-long trial with a hung jury, and cultural biases against Abacus and the immigrant Chinese community it serves." - Village Voice

"As gripping as the movie is as a legal thriller, it's even more notable as a portrait of a community." - RogerEbert.com

Director’s Biography

Steve James: Steve James was born in Hampton, Virginia and is widely regarded as one of the greatest documentary filmmakers of all-time. His impressive list includes Hoop Dreams ('94), Stevie ('02), At the Death House Door ('08), and Life Itself ('14), about film critic Roger Ebert. His documentary The Interrupters screened at MSPIFF 2011.