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PBS Acquires Steve James’ ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL, Plans a Spring Theatrical Release

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Vera Sung, Jill Sung, and Thomas Sung in a scene from
ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL - a film by STEVE JAMES.
(Photo Credit:  Sean Lyness)
PBS Distribution announced that they have acquired the North American distribution rights to “Abacus: Small Enough To Jail,” directed by Steve James. PBS Distribution plans a theatrical release this Spring starting in New York City at IFC Center on May 19 and expanding throughout the summer.

"ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL" will be screening at the upcoming Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival on April 30, 2017 at the Downtown Independent Theatre and opening theatrically on June 9 at the Landmark Nuart Theatre.  Filmmaker Steve James will be at Q/A on June 9 at the Nuart.

From acclaimed director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself), "ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail" tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. 

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 film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and also played the prestigious New York Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival. 

PBS Distribution plans a robust spring festival campaign leading into the theatrical release, including the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival where "ABACUS: Small Enough To Jail" is the Opening Night film.
“It’s a true honor to work with Steve James and the teams at Kartemquin Films, Motto Pictures, and Mitten Media to bring ABACUS to a larger audience,” Erin Owens, Head of Theatrical Distribution for PBS Distribution, said. “The Sungs’ story is one of resilience and perseverance. Their determination to stand up for an entire immigrant community is both admirable and inspiring.”
“We are thrilled to be partnering with PBS Distribution on the theatrical release of ABACUS. We have a long history with public television and can think of no better home for this vitally important but, until now, untold story of the 2008 mortgage crisis,” Steve James said.
"ABACUS: Small Enough To Jail" is a Mitten Media, Motto Pictures, and Kartemquin Films Production for WGBH/FRONTLINE and Independent Television Service (ITVS). 

The director is Steve James and the producers are Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman. 

The film was Executive Produced by Gordon Quinn (Kartemquin Films), Betsy Steinberg (Kartemquin Films), Christopher Clements (Motto Pictures), Raney Aronson-Rath (FRONTLINE), Justine Nagan (formerly of Kartemquin Films), and Sally Jo Fifer (ITVS).

The deal was negotiated by Amy Letourneau and Emily Rothschild of PBS Distribution and Cinetic Media on behalf of the filmmakers.

About PBS Distribution
PBS Distribution is the leading media distributor for the public television community, both domestically and internationally, extending the reach of programs beyond broadcast while generating revenue for the public television system and production partners. PBS Distribution offers its customers a diverse range of programming, including Ken Burns’s films, documentaries from award-winning series such as NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN MASTERS, NATURE and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, and dramas from MASTERPIECE, as well as films from independent producers and popular children’s programs. As a multi-channel distributor, PBS Distribution offers consumers high-quality content in multiple formats including DVD, Blu-ray, digital download and digital streaming. PBS Distribution is also a leading source for factual content for international broadcast, cable and satellite services.

About PBS
PBS, with nearly 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 100 million people through television and nearly 28 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’ premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a new 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices.

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