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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Rob Reviews "Abacus: Small Enough To Jail"

During the bank crisis of the late ‘00s, the Federal Government exposed a lot of issues with the mortgage industry. After a bunch of fines and slaps on wrists of the largest entities, the public thought things would fade into obscurity as a blip on history’s radar.

Yeah. Tell the Sung family that. Let me know how THAT answer works out for you.

As the only bank that was indicted by the government, “Hoop Dreams” documentarian Steve James takes the story of Abacus Bank’s fight against allegations of fraud before cameras in “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”. A small institution chain founded and run by the family’s patriarch, Thomas, the Sung family takes on the New York County District Attorney’s office (which forced one of their daughters to resign after working for that office) to both clear their name and the triple-digit total of charges against their board of directors and institution itself. Any deeper that I go into the story than that will work some spoilers into itself, so unless you know the story, do yourself a solid and go in cold.

In the screening that I attended during the 11th Dallas International Film Festival, I was constantly amazed on the great reactions of the crowd, which exactly matched my own from sequence to sequence. James gives great understanding to his audience of the rollercoaster ride that this family goes on all the way through the trial and its conclusion, including interviews with DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. as well as local business owners, customers, disgraced former employees, reporters, and even a couple of jurors on the trial. It becomes very tough to be impartial as the story unfolds, even though James does his best to cover the tale from as many angles as he possibly can all the way up until the end.

With PBS backing this film, expect to see “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” at least airing on a public broadcasting channel near you or even on Netflix or Hulu. If you get the opportunity to see this film, do yourself a solid and do it. It will keep you engaged and focused on this outrageous story from beginning to end.

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