ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL Named Best Political Documentary at Second Annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards Ceremony

Steve James’ compelling film, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail was named Best Political Documentary at the second annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards tonight at a gala event, hosted by Penn Jillette at BRIC in Brooklyn.

Jillette lead the celebrations for this year’s Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary honorees — The Cats of Istanbul (Kedi), Etty Ausch (One of Us), Al Gore (An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power), Laird Hamilton (Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton), Dolores Huerta (Dolores), Gigi Lazzarato (This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous), The Sung Family (Abacus: Small Enough to Jail).

Thomas Sung, Hwei Lin Sung, Heather Sung, Chanterelle Sung, Vera Sung and Jill Sung. Photo by Lia Chang
Thomas Sung, Hwei Lin Sung, Heather Sung, Chanterelle Sung, Vera Sung and Jill Sung. Photo by Lia Chang

One of the past year’s most critically acclaimed documentaries during its robust international film festival run and a national theatrical release, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail tells the saga of the Sungs — a Chinese-American family who own and operate Abacus Federal Savings in New York’s Chinatown.

But in 2009, the Sung’s fired a loan officer after they discovered fraud. They reported the fraud to law enforcement, but soon found themselves and the bank under scrutiny. Two-and-a-half-years later, Abacus Federal Savings and two senior officers were accused of mortgage fraud by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, becoming the only U.S. bank prosecuted after the 2008 financial crash and the first bank indicted in New York since 1991.

With riveting detail, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail follows how 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.

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail examines the case against the bank, hearing from prosecutors, jurors, defense lawyers, and Mr. and Mrs. Sung and their four daughters — whom James filmed for more than a year as they fought to clear their names.

Credits
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is a Mitten Media, Motto Pictures and Kartemquin Films Production for WGBH/FRONTLINE and Independent Television Service (ITVS). It is co-presented with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). The director is Steve James. The producers are Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman. The co-producers are Fenell Doremus and Nick Verbitsky. The executive producers are Gordon Quinn, Christopher Clements, Betsy Steinberg and Justine Nagan. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath. The executive producer of ITVS is Sally Jo Fifer.

The second annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards honor the finest achievement in documentary features and nonfiction television. The awards were determined by Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA)  members with expertise in the documentary field. The Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards was produced by Bob Bain Productions.

Click here for a full list of the winners.

About BFCA/BTJA
The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) is the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 300 television, radio and online critics. The Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) is a partner organization to the BFCA and includes TV, radio and Internet journalists who cover television on a regular basis. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com
FRONTLINE to Premiere ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL on September 12; Photos from Asia Society Screening

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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‘Abacus’: One Immigrant Family’s Fight for Justice, Screens at Asia Society on September 6  

The Asia Society is presenting a screening of the latest documentary from celebrated filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself), ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL on Wednesday, September 6, 2017 at 6:30 PM. The screening at the Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street) in New York, will be preceded by a reception at 5:30 PM. Tickets for Members $10; Students/Seniors $12; Nonmembers $15

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 Thomas Sung and his formidable daughters to defend themselves—and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community—over the course of a five-year legal battle. Tracking the many twists and turns of the case, Oscar-nominated James creates a moving portrait of a family, a community, and a way of life.

The documentary asks fundamental questions about what the purpose of a bank should be in a community — especially an immigrant community — and whether the prosecution of this small financial institution may have much larger implications for the role of banks in our society.

A Q & A will follow the reception and screening with director and producer Steve James and the Sung family, moderated by Asia Society Executive Vice President Tom Nagorski.

SPEAKERS
Steve James is an award-winning documentary film producer and director. His films include Hoop DreamsThe Interrupters, and Life Itself, among others.

Thomas Sung is a lawyer and real-estate investor. He is the founder of Abacus Federal Savings Bank in New York.

Tom Nagorski (moderator) is Executive Vice President of the Asia Society. He joined Asia Society following a three-decade career in journalism — having served most recently as Managing Editor for International Coverage at ABC News.

Program presented in partnership with the Committee of 100 and made possible by Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang.

Find out when Abacus comes to a theater near you at www.abacusmovie.com/events.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2017 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL Extends at IFC Center Through June 15

The latest documentary from celebrated filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself), ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL has been extended at the IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas through June 15th. Buy tickets here.

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 Thomas Sung and his formidable daughters to defend themselves—and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community—over the course of a five-year legal battle. Tracking the many twists and turns of the case, Oscar-nominated James creates a moving portrait of a family, a community, and a way of life.

Ti-Hua Chang, producer Mark Mitten, Vera Sung, Jill Sung, Chanterelle Sung. Photo by Lia Chang
Ti-Hua Chang, producer Mark Mitten, Vera Sung, Jill Sung, Chanterelle Sung. Photo by Lia Chang

On May 21st, reporter Ti-Hua Chang moderated a Q & A featuring Vera Sung, Jill Sung, Chanterelle Sung and producer Mark Mitten.

Find out when Abacus comes to a theater near you at www.abacusmovie.com/events.

Press for ABACUS:

“Crowd-pleasing…A classic underdog tale.”– The New York Times

“The craft on display in Steve James’ new film Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is so sturdy and comforting that the experience of watching it almost feels like a hug.” –Reverse Shot

“A compelling non-fiction thriller. It should engross most viewers, even those who’ve resisted learning what a subprime mortgage is.” –NPR

“James’ spins a fascinating and complex web.” –Village Voice

“A stunning David-and-Goliath epic.” –Film Journal International

“**** A legal thriller and a warm family comedy.” –Time Out New York

“One of the great documentaries of recent years.” – Movie City News

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL Extends at IFC Center and Screens at BAM Rose Cinema through June 1

Vera Sung, Jill Sung and Chanterelle Sung. Photo by Lia Chang

The latest documentary from celebrated filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself), ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL has been extended at the IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas through June 1st, and can also be seen at BAM Rose Cinemas. Buy tickets to see Abacus at BAM Rose Cinemas here.

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 Thomas Sung and his formidable daughters to defend themselves—and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community—over the course of a five-year legal battle. Tracking the many twists and turns of the case, Oscar-nominated James creates a moving portrait of a family, a community, and a way of life.

Ti-Hua Chang, producer Mark Mitten, Vera Sung, Jill Sung, Chanterelle Sung. Photo by Lia Chang
Ti-Hua Chang, producer Mark Mitten, Vera Sung, Jill Sung, Chanterelle Sung. Photo by Lia Chang

On May 21st, reporter Ti-Hua Chang moderated a Q & A featuring Vera Sung, Jill Sung, Chanterelle Sung and producer Mark Mitten.

In-person screenings at the IFC Center

  • Sat May 27:Q&A with Chanterelle Sung and Jill Sung at 7:30pm show, moderated by Judy Lei, Director Asian Cinevision Film Festival!

    BUY TICKETS

SHOWTIMES at IFC Center

  • Sat, May 27 at:

    •  10:45 AM
    •  12:35 PM
    •  3:10 PM
    •  5:20 PM
    •  7:30 PM
    •  9:35 PM

    BUY TICKETS

  • Sun, May 28 at:

    •  10:45 AM
    •  12:35 PM
    •  3:10 PM
    •  5:20 PM
    •  7:30 PM
    •  9:35 PM

    BUY TICKETS

  • Mon, May 29 at:

    •  10:45 AM
    •  12:35 PM
    •  3:10 PM
    •  5:20 PM
    •  7:30 PM
    •  9:35 PM

    BUY TICKETS

  • Tue, May 30 at:

    •  12:35 PM
    •  3:10 PM
    •  5:15 PM
    •  7:30 PM
    •  9:35 PM

    BUY TICKETS

  • Wed, May 31 at:

    •  10:45 AM
    •  12:35 PM
    •  3:10 PM
    •  5:15 PM
    •  7:30 PM
    •  9:35 PM

    BUY TICKETS

Find out when Abacus comes to a theater near you at www.abacusmovie.com/events.

Press for ABACUS:

“Crowd-pleasing…A classic underdog tale.”– The New York Times

“The craft on display in Steve James’ new film Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is so sturdy and comforting that the experience of watching it almost feels like a hug.” –Reverse Shot

“A compelling non-fiction thriller. It should engross most viewers, even those who’ve resisted learning what a subprime mortgage is.” –NPR

“James’ spins a fascinating and complex web.” –Village Voice

“A stunning David-and-Goliath epic.” –Film Journal International

“**** A legal thriller and a warm family comedy.” –Time Out New York

“One of the great documentaries of recent years.” – Movie City News

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL Opens at IFC Center

The latest documentary from celebrated filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself), ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL played to critical acclaim at the Toronto and New York film festivals and, following screenings at dozens of additional festivals, including Opening Night of the Full Frame Documentary Festival, it will open in New York on Friday, May 19 at the IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas.

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 Thomas Sung and his formidable daughters to defend themselves—and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community—over the course of a five-year legal battle. Tracking the many twists and turns of the case, Oscar-nominated James creates a moving portrait of a family, a community, and a way of life.

IN PERSON EVENTS

  • Fri May 19: Q&A with dir. Steve James and the Sung family following the 6:20pm show, moderated by Heidi Ewing, plus intro at the 8:25pm show!

    BUY TICKETS

  • Sat May 20: Q&As with dir. Steve James and the Sung family following the 6:20pm show, moderated by Morgan Spurlock! Q&A with James and Sung family following the 8:25pm show, moderated by Ursula Liang!

    BUY TICKETS

  • Sun May 21: Q&A with the Sung family following the 4:15pm show, moderated by Ti-Hua Chang!

    BUY TICKETS

SHOWTIMES

  • Fri, May 19 at:

    •  10:40 AM
    •  12:25 PM
    •  2:15 PM
    •  4:15 PM
    •  6:20 PM
    •  8:25 PM
    •  10:30 PM

    BUY TICKETS

  • Sat, May 20 at:

    •  10:40 AM
    •  12:25 PM
    •  2:15 PM
    •  4:15 PM
    •  6:20 PM
    •  8:25 PM
    •  10:30 PM

    BUY TICKETS

  • Sun, May 21 at:

    •  10:40 AM
    •  12:25 PM
    •  2:15 PM
    •  4:15 PM
    •  6:20 PM
    •  8:25 PM
    •  10:30 PM

    BUY TICKETS

  • Mon, May 22 at:

    •  10:40 AM
    •  12:25 PM
    •  2:15 PM
    •  4:15 PM
    •  6:20 PM
    •  8:25 PM
    •  10:30 PM

    BUY TICKETS

  • Tue, May 23 at:

    •  10:40 AM
    •  12:25 PM
    •  2:15 PM
    •  4:15 PM
    •  6:20 PM
    •  8:25 PM
    •  10:30 PM

    BUY TICKETS

  • Wed, May 24 at:

    •  10:40 AM
    •  12:25 PM
    •  2:15 PM
    •  4:15 PM
    •  6:20 PM
    •  8:25 PM
    •  10:30 PM

    BUY TICKETS

  • Thu, May 25 at:

    •  10:40 AM
    •  12:25 PM
    •  2:15 PM
    •  4:15 PM
    •  6:20 PM
    •  8:25 PM
    •  10:30 PM

    BUY TICKETS