Abacus will screen on Thursday 10/6 at 8:45 PM at the Walter Reade Theater and Friday 10/7 at 6:15 PM at the Bruno Walter Auditorium with filmmakers and cast attending. NYFF runs September 30 - October 16, 2016 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Tickets go on sale September 11. Read the full announcement of the NYFF's Spotlight on Documentaries line-up.
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 New York screenings follow the film's previously announced world premiere, to be held on September 11 at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Before Abacus, Steve James' last appearance at New York Film Festival was 1994's closing night screening of Hoop Dreams. Kartemquin's Golub (1988) also screened at NYFF.
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 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, where his film Stevie will screen on September 27 at 7:30pm at ArcLight Hollywood.
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.
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