PBS Acquires Steve James’ “Abacus: Small Enough To Jail”
From acclaimed director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself), ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves – and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community – over the course of a five-year legal battle.
The film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and also played the prestigious New York Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival. PBS Distribution plans a robust spring festival campaign leading into the theatrical release, including the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival where ABACUS: Small Enough To Jail is the Opening Night film.
“It’s a true honor to work with Steve James and the teams at Kartemquin Films, Motto Pictures, and Mitten Media to bring ABACUS to a larger audience,” said Erin Owens, Head of Theatrical Distribution for PBS Distribution. “The Sungs’ story is one of resilience and perseverance. Their determination to stand up for an entire immigrant community is both admirable and inspiring.”
“We are thrilled to be partnering with PBS Distribution on the theatrical release of ABACUS. We have a long history with public television and can think of no better home for this vitally important but, until now, untold story of the 2008 mortgage crisis,” said Steve James.
ABACUS: Small Enough To Jail is a Mitten Media, Motto Pictures, and Kartemquin Films Production for WGBH/FRONTLINE and Independent Television Service (ITVS). The director is Steve James and the producers are Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman. The film was Executive Produced by Gordon Quinn (Kartemquin Films), Betsy Steinberg (Kartemquin Films), Christopher Clements (Motto Pictures), Raney Aronson-Rath (FRONTLINE), Justine Nagan (formerly of Kartemquin Films), and Sally Jo Fifer (ITVS).
The deal was negotiated by Amy Letourneau and Emily Rothschild of PBS Distribution and Cinetic Media on behalf of the filmmakers.
CONTACT: DAVID MAGDAEL & ASSOCIATES