Documentary Focused on Failed Prosecuction of Chinatown Bank Nominated For Academy Award

PBS Distribution.

PBS Distribution.

A locally relevant film is in contention for an Academy Award.

When Oscar nominations were announced this morning, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, about the failed prosecution of a Chinatown-based bank, made the short list for “Best Documentary.”

Abacus Federal Savings was the only lender nationwide to face criminal charges as a result of the 2008 financial collapse. New York City District Attorney Cy Vance went after the small bank, and its owners, Chinatown’s Sung family, fought back — and won. Other “Best Documentary” nominees include: Faces Places, Icarus, Last Men in Aleppo and Strong Island.

In reviewing Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, last year, the New York Times wrote:

The film persuasively argues that any fraud at Abacus occurred at a low level, and that the bank dealt with it swiftly and properly. The prosecution was, in its view, an arrogant waste of resources and possibly an act of scapegoating… The documentary also shows how Abacus had played an important role as a neighborhood banker in an immigrant community.

The film is available on streaming services. Here’s the trailer: