22 user 46 critic

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 7 July 2017 (UK)
1:40 | Trailer
A small financial institution called Abacus becomes the only company criminally indicted in the wake of the United States' 2008 mortgage crisis.


Steve James
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Thomas Sung Thomas Sung ... Self - Founder, Abacus Federal Savings Bank
Hwei Lin Sung Hwei Lin Sung ... Self - Thomas Sung's Wife
Cyrus Vance Jr. Cyrus Vance Jr. ... Self - District Attorney, New York County
Matt Taibbi ... Self - Journalist & Author, The Divide
Jill Sung Jill Sung ... Self - Abacus President & CEO
Vera Sung Vera Sung ... Self - Abacus Director
Heather Sung Heather Sung ... Self - Physician
Chanterelle Sung Chanterelle Sung ... Self - Former Assistant DA
Linda Hall Linda Hall ... Self - Title Closer
David Lindorff David Lindorff ... Self - Investigative Journalist
Jiayang Fan Jiayang Fan ... Self - Staff Writer, The New Yorker
Polly Greenberg Polly Greenberg ... Self - Chief, Major Economic Crimes Bureay NY DA's Office
Yiu Wah Wong Yiu Wah Wong ... Self - Abacus Chief Credit Officer
Kevin Puvalowski Kevin Puvalowski ... Self - Attorney for Abacus
Sam Talkin Sam Talkin ... Self - Attorney for Mr. Wong


After the 2008 financial crisis that nearly destroyed the world economy, none of the American financial institutions faced prosecutions for their shady dealings that contributed to this debacle, except one. Abacus Federal Savings Bank, a small Chinese-American bank that catered to the neglected market of their community, was indicted on fraud charges and loan falsifications. As the bank disputed these accusations, many in the mainstream news media noticed that far larger competitors appeared to have committed similar misdeeds without legal consequence; likely because they were "too big to fail." This film explores the history of Abacus and its legal battle for survival against this hypocritical, and likely racist, application of the law that seemed to determined to punish them as a scapegoat for crimes that much larger felons deserve to face. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Steve James' first Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature, following notable omissions like "Hoop Dreams" and "Life, Itself". See more »


Himself - Founder, Abacus Federal Savings Bank: Abacus, you know, is the Chinese calculator. China Regards abacus as a national treasure. So we say we'll name the bank Abacus.
See more »


Featured in The Oscars (2018) See more »

User Reviews

David vs Goliath
19 October 2016 | by johnsonalgSee all my reviews

This film received a standing ovation at the Chicago International Film Festival. At the Q and A after the film the family was as genuine as in the movie. Not only is this a story about government picking on the small guy (small by banking standards) but also a nice movie about immigration and family values. The entire movie was shot while filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams) was unaware if the family or bank would be found innocent or guilty of mortgage fraud. Unfortunately the court proceedings are represented by paintings and live audio, but you still get the feeling of being in the courtroom. Even a couple of jurors are interviewed. Do not expect to sit on the edge of your seat with anxiety but a very interesting, thoughtful film

24 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 22 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

7 July 2017 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,528, 21 May 2017

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed