Oscar-nominated documentarian Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) turns his attention to the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Of all the banks implicated in the toxic loans scandal, the only one prosecuted was a small family-owned institution that serviced the Chinese community. This film follows the struggle of the Sung family to clear their names and that of the Abacus Federal Savings Bank. And it raises the spectre of, if not racially motivated persecution, then at least a certain degree of cultural insensitivity on the part of the district attorney’s office. Disarmingly human moments – the Sung daughters, all high-powered lawyers, fret over their 80-year-old father’s disappointing sandwich – pepper this compelling courtroom drama.
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail review – compelling real-life legal drama
Steve James’s documentary about how one small family-owned bank fought to keep its reputation tells a very human story
Wendy Ide is the Observer's deputy film critic