EXCLUSIVE: PBS Distribution has picked up the North American rights to Toronto film fest doc Abacus: Small Enough To Jail, from director Steve James. The company is planning a spring theatrical release, beginning May 19 at New York City’s IFC Center.
It centers on the dramatic saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of New York’s Chinatown. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves—and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community—over the course of a five-year legal battle.
The doc, which also screened at New York Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival, will serve as the opening night film at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.
Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman produced the film while Gordon Quinn, Betsy Steinberg, Christopher Clements, Raney Aronson-Rath, Justine Nagan, and Sally Jo Fifer exec produced.
The deal was negotiated by Amy Letourneau and Emily Rothschild of PBS Distribution and Cinetic Media on behalf of the filmmakers.