Abacus broadcast premieres on PBS FRONTLINE September 12
The newest film by director Steve James, Abacus 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 US 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.
James previously worked with FRONTLINE in 2012 on our Emmy Award-winning documentary, The Interrupters.
"Veteran documentary-maker Steve James (HOOP DREAMS) is back with an engrossing story: the extraordinary fiasco of the Abacus bank prosecution." (4/5 stars) –Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
"Throughout James's scrappy story, there's a winning sense of humor, showing the spunk of people not used to getting pushed around." (4/5 stars) –Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
"A charming portrait of this tight-knit community in the midst of their David v Goliath battle. The Sungs are demonstrably close and witheringly intelligent." (4/5 stars) –Jonathan Mahon-Heap, The Upcoming
"An astonishing, bruising, educative tale for our times." (4/5 stars) –Nigel Andrews, Financial Times
"Illuminating and inspiring." –Nikki Baughan, The List
After making its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016, a theatrical version of Abacus: Small Enough to Jail was showcased in more than 30 film festivals and in dozens of theaters across the country. The FRONTLINE version of Abacus: Small Enough to Jail will premiere September 12 on PBS, and will stream online for free on pbs.org/frontline.
FRONTLINE, U.S. television’s longest running investigative documentary series, explores the issues of our times through powerful storytelling. FRONTLINE has won every major journalism and broadcasting award, including 82 Emmy Awards and 20 Peabody Awards. Visit pbs.org/frontline and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and Google+ to learn more. Founded in 1983, FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation, the Park Foundation, the John and Helen Glessner Family Trust and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.