Arts Calendar

Apr 2

International Film Forum: ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL

From site: International Film Forum

Monday, April 2nd, 2018
7:00 – 9:00 pm / Weitz Cinema
IFF presents Abacus: Small Enough to Jail on Monday, April 2, at 7:00pm

Abacus: Small Enough To Jail (Steve James, 2016, 88 min., USA)


“Born in Shanghai, Thomas Sung founded the Abacus Federal Savings Bank in Chinatown in 1984, hoping to make it easier for s Chinese immigrants to get loans. The bank became a community hub, but in 2012, the Manhattan district attorney’s office charged it with mortgage fraud, also indicting 19 of its former employees. Abacus was, a title card at the end asserts, ‘the only U.S. bank indicted for mortgage fraud related to the 2008 crisis.’ Was the government giving a pass to big fish and picking on a small one — perhaps with a tinge of racism in its motives? Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the district attorney who oversaw the case, called the accusations of cultural bias ‘entirely misplaced and entirely wrong.’ […] The film persuasively argues that any fraud at Abacus occurred at a low level, and that the bank dealt with it swiftly and properly. The prosecution was, in its view, an arrogant waste of resources and possibly an act of scapegoating. (The flip side of the banks that were too big to fail, the journalist Matt Taibbi says in the film, is this bank, which was ‘small enough to jail.’) The documentary also shows how Abacus had played an important role as a neighborhood banker in an immigrant community.” (Ben Kenigsburg, The New York Times)


Sponsored by International Film Forum. Contact: Farrah Pribyl, x5567