Mitten Media, Motto Pictures, Kartemquin Films, FRONTLINE/PBS, and ITVS announced the World Premiere of Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, the latest documentary from celebrated filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself), at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
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.
In addition to presenting the film on September 11, with the Sung family in attendance, Steve James will also be the keynote speaker at TIFF’s Doc Conference on September 13.
“We are all thrilled to have Abacus premiere at TIFF,” said director James. “It’s such a great festival in a great city – one which has a substantial Chinese community. We believe this film will appeal greatly to them as well as Toronto doc lovers, of which there are many!”
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail was directed by Steve James and produced by Mark Mitten (Life Itself) and Julie Goldman (Weiner; Life, Animated; Best of Enemies). Executive producers are Gordon Quinn, Betsy Steinberg, Christopher Clements, Justine Nagan, Raney Aronson-Rath (for FRONTLINE), and Sally Jo Fifer (for ITVS). The film was shot by Tom Bergmann and edited by John Farbrother and David E. Simpson with music by Joshua Abrams.
Steve James produced and directed the Oscar-nominated Hoop Dreams (1994), winner of every major critics prize as well as a Peabody and Robert F. Kennedy Award. Other award-winning documentaries include Stevie (2002); At the Death House Door (2008); No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson (2010); and The Interrupters (2011), which won an Emmy and an Independent Spirit Award, among many others. James’ most recent film, Life Itself(2014), was named the best documentary of the year by over a dozen critics associations, the National Board of Review and the Producers Guild of America. He has been honored with career achievement awards by the Hot Docs (2016) and Full Frame (2014) documentary festivals, as well as a retrospective at IDFA (2011).
Abacus is Steve James’ ninth feature-length film or series produced at Kartemquin Films, which is celebrating 50 years of “sparking democracy through documentary” in 2016. James will attend upcoming Kartemquin 50th Anniversary retrospectives at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image from August 19-28, and from September 16-27 in Los Angeles at the Billy Wilder Theater, presented by the UCLA Film & TV Archive and the International Documentary Association (IDA).
Steve James will also be the keynote speaker at the IDA’s Getting Real 2016 conference, held September 27-29 in Los Angeles.
With a noted tradition of nurturing emerging talent and acting as a leading voice for independent media, Kartemquin is building on more than 50 years of history as Chicago’s documentary powerhouse.
Kartemquin is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. Guidestar
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