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Event Archive - Abacus: Small Enough to Jail: Steve James

Thu. February 9th 2017 - Thu. February 9th 2017 Star Cinema (All Ages)
In 1984, attorney Thomas Sung observed the difficulty Chinese immigrants had getting loans, and, with a dash of inspiration from Jimmy Stewart’s bighearted character in It’s A Wonderful Life, started the Abacus Federal Savings Bank.

Almost 30 years later, the New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. brought charges against this small, family-run bank, accusing it of, among other things, falsifying and fabricating loan and mortgage documents. Abacus Federal Savings Banks holds the notorious distinction of being the only US bank charged with mortgage fraud following the 2008 financial crisis.

Director Steve James creates a suspenseful and moving documentary (take note – do not look up the news story before seeing this film) and the element of shaming for this small family resonates as their humour and warmth is revealed. That James doesn’t overplay those moments and, instead, reveals a regular American family, makes this story all the more chilling and infuriating. James’ past films typically explored how minority groups try to buy into the American dream, only to discover that the system is rigged against them. This is no exception.

ABACUS is yet another strange, absorbing, tale of the 2008 American banking fiasco.


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