Watch Now: Special conversation with Oscar-nominated director, Steve James about ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail’

VERA SUNG, JILL SUNG AND FATHER THOMAS SUNG IN THE SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX DEPARTMENT OF THEIR BANK IN A SCENE FROM OSCAR-NOMINATED “ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL” DIRECTED BY STEVE JAMES. PHOTO COURTESY OF PBS DISTRIBUTION/KARTEMQUIN FILMS

Last year, Liz reviewed this last much-needed documentary last November for DOC NYC. Available now on Amazon Prime. In any case, you can view a conversation with the director at 12:30 pm at https://www.westdoconline.com/steve-james-episode-6-live.

  • NOMINEE – STEVE JAMES, OUTSTANDING DIRECTING DIRECTORS GUILD OF AMERICA AWARDS
  • WINNER – BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY CRITICS’ CHOICE DOCUMENTARY AWARDS
  • THREE NOMINATIONS CRITICS’ CHOICE DOCUMENTARY AWARDS
  • NOMINEE – BEST DOCUMENTARY NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW
  • NOMINEE – BEST DOCUMENTARY CHICAGO FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION

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.

DOC NYC review: ‘A Murder in Mansfield’ is an emotional gut punch.

A MURDER IN MANSFIELD

WORLD PREMIERE Filmmaker Barbara Kopple explores the legacy of the 1989 murder of Noreen Boyle in Mansfield, Ohio. Her 12-year-old son Collier gave a devastating videotaped testimony blaming his father for the murder. Now, over two decades later, Collier returns to Ohio seeking to retrace his past and confront his imprisoned father, who remains in denial of his guilt. Collier’s depth of character is a wonder to behold from childhood to adulthood. Out of this tragic story, we witness the power of human resilience.
Collier Landry brings us on a journey no child should ever have to go on. 27 years after a horrific crime by the hands of his own father, we learn that Landry had the foresight to keep all the correspondence between the two, adding to the real life, emotionally manipulative drama that endured. This doc has some of the most graphic details shown to an audience as we are privy to the actual crime scene photos alongside Collier. While he attempts to come to terms with the truth about his father, he also explores the greater effect that violence leaves on a community. Through interviews with friends and family, the hold this event still has on so many is more than evident. Landry not only had his mother stolen from his life, not only his innocence, but an adoptive sister. As a viewer, I mourned right along with him at every turn. His determination is contagious and brave. Director Barbara Kopple yet again delves into the lives of people making waves, big and small. A Murder in Mansfield displays a sorrow and engages the detective we all have buried inside. It is both an honest portrait of grieving and a peak inside the chilling mind of a murderer.
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MansfieldDocumentary/
Director: Barbara Kopple
Producer: Barbara Kopple, David Cassidy, Ray Nowosielski
Cinematographer: Gary Griffin, Tony Hardmon
Editor: Rob Kuhns
Running Time: 88
Language: English
Country: USA
Year: 2017

DOC NYC review: ‘Abacus: Small Enough To Jail’ will cause you to rage against the machine.

ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL

 Abacus Federal Savings Bank is a modest institution of New York’s Chinatown that came under harsh prosecution in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. While other banks were considered ‘too big to fail,’ Abacus was ‘small enough to jail.’ Filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams) follows the bank’s founder Thomas Sung and his family as they fight back in court against Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. in an effort to redeem their name and to dispel biases against Chinatown. Courtesy of PBS Distribution
Wall Street got a free pass, once again. But someone had to be made an example of. Most of us probably didn’t now that one bank was taken to court, but it’s no one you’ve ever heard of outside of Chinatown in Manhattan. In Abacus: Small Enough To Jail, the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished,” could not be truer. You will be witness to one family’s battle as they are thrown under the bus to save face.The film is filled with strong daughters who go to bat for their father, family honor, their employees, and community. It will floor you as you watch the bogus claims and prejudice that occurs because it seemed to be easier than taking on the Wall Street household names. Abacus: Small Enough To Jail will expose lies we’ve been fed for years. Get ready to rage.

Showtimes:

Wed Nov 15, 2017, 11:45 AM Cinepolis Chelsea
Official Site: https://www.abacusmovie.com
On Twitter: AbacusMovie
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abacusmovie
Director: Steve James
Producer: Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
Cinematographer: Tom Bergmann
Editor: John Farbrother, David E. Simpson
Music: Joshua Abrams
Running Time: 88
Language: English, Mandarin & Cantonese with English subtitles
Country: USA
Year: 2016

DOC NYC Review: ‘SWIM TEAM’ challenges our idea of winners and losers.

SWIM TEAM

To level the playing field, they had to get into the water.

Official Selection
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival 
*Winner – Best  Sports Documentary *
New Hampshire Film Festival
Heartland Film Festival 

Napa Valley Film Festival 
DOC NYC

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Synopsis
Demonstrating the power of inclusion to transcend disability, Lara Stolman’s triumphant film profiles members of the Jersey Hammerheads, a competitive swim team made up of a diverse group of teens on the autism spectrum, based in the state with the highest rate of autism in the country. Through training and competition, star athletes Mikey, Robbie and Kelvin gain self-confidence and social skills that serve them both in and out of the pool.

SWIM TEAM was selected for the Independent Filmmaker Project’s Project Forum in 2015 and in 2016 was selected to participate in the IFP Documentary Completion Lab. During production, filmmaking team received grants from New York Women in Film and Television, the Loreen Arbus Foundation and the Karma Foundation.

swim team pool still

SWIM TEAM is one of many recent forays into the challenging world of raising children on the autism spectrum. Films like Autism is Love and Life Animated visually bring us mostly into the the subjects’ present lives as adults. Swim Team follows 3 high school boys on their journey for acceptance and self actualization through a team sport. As a society, we must make sure that we aren’t lumping these children together. Broadly labeling them “on the spectrum” has become such a blanket term that it’s easy to categorize and limit them. If you listen to only “the experts” you might be hindering the individual growth and abilities of each child. Mikey, Kelvin, and Robbie are three completely different kids. Swimming for them is the continuation of learning discipline, self control, leadership, self esteem and a massive lot of life skills often overlooked in a school environment, so parents teach their son and daughters to swim from young age, there are even female swimming teams, so parents get Swimwear for Baby Girls and start teaching their girls from young age. We can all learn from director Lara Stolman‘s work. We need more insight as parents, teachers, administration on ways that we can help level the proverbial playing field at all times. Showing other children through our actions and words that we can all be more patient, loving, and understanding. Swim Team, through their journey to the Special Olympic games, will give you hope that kindness and heart can be a guiding light for families from all backgrounds. Autism doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care about race or socioeconomic background. The Hammerheads of New Jersey are a team of extraordinary kids, parents, and coaches trying to make a difference in the world one stroke at a time.

New York Premiere at DOC NYC in the Jock Docs Section
Thursday, November 17th at 7:30pm
SVA Theater: 333 West 23rd street, between 8th and 9th Avenues


Directed and Produced by: Lara Stolman (Portraits of Survival)
Co-Produced and Edited by: Ann Collins (Academy Award-nominated Sound and Fury)
Director of Photography: Laela Kilbourn (Twenty Feet From Stardom, American Teen, Emmy-nominated Word Wars)
Original Score by: Mark Suozzo (Metropolitan, Barcelona, Last Days of Disco, Love & Friendship, Sound and Fury)
Produced by: Shanna BelottFor more information, please visit: http://www.swimteamthefilm.com
Doc NYC Website: http://www.docnyc.net/film/swim-team
RT: 100 Minutes

Social Media:
Twitter: @SwimTeamTheFilm
Facebook: @SwimTeamTheFilm
#swimteamthefilm

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Netflix News: New Documentary series ‘Making a Murderer’ starting December 18th

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Netflix is not slowing down any time soon. Here’s another new original series, this time about crime.


 

Netflix, the world’s leading Internet TV, will premiere a captivating original ten-part documentary crime series Making a Murderer on December 18, 2015 exclusively to Netflix members worldwide.

Inspired by a newspaper article from 2005, directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos have spent the last decade documenting an unprecedented real-life thriller that spans more than thirty years. Set in America’s Heartland, Making a Murderer follows the harrowing story of Steven Avery, an outsider from the wrong side of the tracks, convicted and later exonerated of a brutal assault. His release triggered major criminal justice reform legislation, and he filed a lawsuit that threatened to expose corruption in local law enforcement and award him millions of dollars. But in the midst of his very public civil case, he suddenly finds himself the prime suspect in a grisly new crime.

The series takes viewers inside a riveting, high-stakes criminal case where reputation is everything and things are never as they appear. The filmmakers have documented every angle of the story, following the second investigation and ensuing trial of the accused, petitioning the court to avoid having to turn over their footage, gathering archival materials, and interviewing those closest to the case.

“There are an unbelievable number of twists and turns in the story arc of Making a Murderer, it feels like it has to be fictional,” said Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP of Original Documentary Programming. “Ricciardi and Demos have navigated very complex terrain and skillfully woven together an incredible series that leaves you feeling like you’re right in the middle of the action.”

“If we had not been there to witness these events we would have trouble believing they actually occurred. Our goal has always been to share that experience with viewers.  Our partnership with Netflix has allowed us to tell this story in a way that wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else,” said directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos.

Making a Murderer examines allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct, evidence tampering and witness coercion. The filmmakers look at what went wrong in the first case and questions whether scientific advances and legislative reforms over the past three decades have gotten us any closer to delivering truth and justice in the system.

Netflix will present a special preview of the first two episodes of Making a Murderer at the DOC NYC film festival on Friday, November 13.

Making a Murderer is the latest project in Netflix’s slate of original documentary and docu-series programming, including the Oscar-nominated films The Square and Virunga as well as What Happened, Miss Simone?, Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom and Chef’s Table.