Steve James, shown at left, who has over the years given us some pretty impressive documentaries (Hoop Dreams and Life Itself come immediately to mind), now offers up a doc -- ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL -- that practically defines the word injustice, showing it masquerading as its very opposite while simultaneously taking in other American preoccupations such as racism, bullying and toadying to wealth and power. All of this is shown so clearly, quietly and therefore all the more shockingly by Mr. James -- via the Chinese-American family that owns the bank and who had to endure years of prosecution and its accompanying trauma and stress -- that the viewer's response at the end of this 90-minute documentary is likely to be one of relief coupled to immense anger.
Thomas Sung (above), his wife Hwei Lin (below) and and their daughters. shown further below -- one of whom worked for the very justice department that prosecuted the bank.
It's a Wonderful Life) to their eating habits and how the kids must care for their dad -- as the film wends its way to completion.
Cyrus Vance Jr. and his staff, built its case (out of very little and yet cost taxpayers 10 million dollars and five years of time) adds to the anger that arises and should make those of us who voted for Vance very sorry for our misplaced trust. How the prosecution reacts to its failure proves even more sour and troubling.
PBS Distribution, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail opens this Friday, May 19, in New York City at the IFC Center, in Los Angeles on June 9 at Landmark's NuArt, and will then have a limited release nationwide.
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