How did Abacus, a small family-run bank, become targeted by the feds to take the fall for the 2008 financial crisis when the Wall Street giants tiptoed away so handily, asks award-winning filmmaker Steve James (HOOP DREAMS, THE INTERRUPTERS) in this affecting David vs. Goliath chronicle. Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey, banker hero of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, served as the role model for New York Chinatown lawyer Thomas Sung when he founded a community-friendly bank in the 1950s, serving an insular, bank-shy immigrant population. In 2010, his staff discovered and reported irregularities perpetrated by one mortgage manager, bringing down the wrath of the Justice Department, and making Abacus the sole bank to face federal charges in the wake of the financial crisis. Nineteen employees are led away in chains before TV cameras, and the resulting five-year media circus and show trial expose suspiciously glaring inequities in the government case. DCP digital. (BS)
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
2016, Steve James, USA, 88 min.
“Gripping real-life legal thriller with an appealing Chinese-American twist…both an affirmation and an indictment of the American Dream.” — Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter
“An exemplary piece of filmmaking…it’s the human face that tells the story.” — Tom Charity, Sight & Sound
LION DANCE — FRIDAY NIGHT ONLY! To officially kick off the run, join us starting at 7:30 pm (before the 8:15 pm screening) when patrons will be greeted outside of the Film Center with a lion dance to chase away evil spirits and bring good luck for the film's week-long engagement. The lion dance will continue in our theater lobby on the 2nd floor starting at 7:45 pm.
Friday, June 16 at 8:15 PM: Director Steve James and producer Mark Mitten will be present for audience discussion. The discussion will be moderated by film critic Steve Prokopy. There will be a reception before the screening starting at 7:00 PM.
Saturday, June 17 at 7:45 PM: Director Steve James and producer Mark Mitten will be present for audience discussion. The discussion will be moderated by Kim Bellware of Huffington Post.
Sunday, June 18 at 5:15 PM: Director Steve James and producer Mark Mitten will be present for audience discussion, moderated by Kathy Im, MacArthur Foundation's Director of Journalism and Media.
Tuesday, June 20 at 8:00 PM: Director Steve James and producer Mark Mitten will be present for audience discussion, facilitated by Mike McNamara, Executive Director of the Midwest Independent Film Festival. This screening is a Movie Club event.
Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
2016, Matt Tyrnauer, USA, 92 min.
"The movie just about pulses with contemporary resonance. It has moments of uncanny overlap with this week’s election, and it explores the scope and meaning of that overly familiar thing — the city — in ways that will box open your thinking. It’s a finely woven tapestry that feels as relevant and alive as the place you live." — Owen Gleiberman, Variety
No one revolutionized the way we think about cities more than Jane Jacobs. The self-educated author of the 1961 masterpiece "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" entered the fray at a time when urban planning was dominated by top-down utopian schemes based on "slum" clearance, high-rise projects, and neighborhood-rupturing expressways. These establishment orthodoxies were lucidly challenged by Jacobs, an outsider and a woman to boot (scorned by her opponents as a "housewife" and "crazy dame"), who discerned that cities were diverse ecosystems based on human interactions, not buildings, and that the most effective changes evolved from the bottom up. The centerpieces of this invigorating documentary are Jacobs's thrilling David-Goliath battles with almighty New York building czar Robert Moses, but director Tyrnauer (VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR) skillfully gives weight to Jacobs's ideas and places them in a larger context of civic protest and grass-roots dissent. Jane Jacobs championed diversity, exposed the arrogance of power, and showed how aroused citizens could successfully stand up to big capital. We need to listen to her voice more than ever today. DCP digital. (MR)
Thursday, May 18 at 6:00 PM: This screening is a Movie Club event. Discussion will be led by Janet Smith, PhD, Co-Director of the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement at the UIC Chicago College of Urban Planning & Public Affairs.