Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sean Kelly

TIFF16: ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail

A family-owned bank in New York's Chinatown becomes the only US bank indicted in the wake of the US financial crisis in ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail. After spending many years as a lawyer, Thomas Sung opened the Abacus Federal Savings Bank to help assist the community of New York's Chinatown, with the bank currently being run by Sung's daughters Jill and Vera. After a number of loan officers at the bank were caught committing fraudulent activity, the Abacus Bank as a whole quickly finds itself charged with larceny. In the wake of these charges, the entire Sung family bands together to clear their names.

Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself) directs this documentary about the only US bank to be indicted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Not only is this small Chinatown bank charged with crimes that the big banks got away with, but there are some apparently racist undertones to this case, with the outcome likely affecting how all the entire Chinese-American community is perceived. At the core of ABACUS is the Sung family, who work together to fight back against these charges.

It is completely absurd that a small bank that serves the Chinatown community would be charged with larceny, just because a number of employees were caught committing fraud (and were fired for doing so). There are definitely larger issues at play here, with the Abacus bank obviously being a scapegoat for the entire financial crisis. ABACUS follows this entire saga from beginning to end, with the Sung family's determination to fight this case together ending up being quite inspirational.

8 / 10 stars
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Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).