Everyday Activist - Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (Oscars 2018)

Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (Oscars 2018)

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

When the big American banks openly admitted to defrauding customers as well as receiving bailouts; instead of indictments or prosecution, a small bank in Chinatown, New York City, was the only bank to be indicted with the mortgage fraud related to the 2008 mortgage crisis by the Manhattan District Attorney. To me the whole thing seemed utterly ridiculous to take this family to court for over five years, when they could have just fined them and walked away. The bank found out it had a few corrupt people and did their utmost to take responsibility to deal with the issue; however, that wasn’t enough for the DA office. They wanted to bully a minority, much like majorities always have, except this time, they were toe to toe with well educated, committed people with deep pockets.

The Sung family bank, Abacus Federal Savings, started as a way to help their community buy homes. In the past they have had some scary times, but have always managed to pull through them using strong Asian values of community and family. Being from an Asian immigrant family myself, I was always taught that I had to be one step ahead, in education and ability to endure. The advice came in handy during my dealings with lawyers and insurance companies over the last two years. I can’t imagine what the Sung family went through over the five years, though luckily a good percentage of the family were lawyers. Chanterelle Sung, actually worked for the DA’s office, but ended up quitting her job to join her family.

Americans need to demand change within their systems. Corporations doing whatever they want, including delving into socialist policies that suit them such as accepting tax dollars, has become so normalized that no one challenges them. Even within the Asian community, if they got together to exercise their right to vote then they would be less of a target as public officials would respect their power to decide an election. Social activists within Chinatown need to mobilize in order to educate people about how much influence they actually have. Documentaries like Abacus: Small Enough to Jail provide vital information as to the pulse of democracy.

Having Frontline as a partner gave director, Steven James, the ability to tell such a compelling story shedding light on the injustices of the justice system. Not surprising as he’s won major awards throughout his career including an Emmy and Peabody as well as been shortlisted for the Oscars. I seriously hope Abacus: Small Enough to Jail moves on to the final five. I would easily place it ahead of Chasing Coral and Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. Environmental issues are important, but fair treatment of people needs to have a place on a bigger stage.

The documentary is available in full for viewing at PBS Frontline: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/abacus/.

[Edit: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail has been shortlisted as a Oscar nominee for Documentary (Feature)]

Calgary Showtimes: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail >


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