EXCLUSIVE: Justin Lin will develop to direct a film based on the 2016 Toronto Film Festival documentary Abacus: Small Enough To Jail, about how a Chinatown bank run by a Chinese immigrant family because the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis that crippled the global economy. Perfect Storm Entertainment has optioned the docu and story rights to the Sung Family to tell the story of its fight for justice after it was scapegoated by prosecutors and accused of mortgage fraud by the Manhattan District Attorney. Meanwhile, giant institutions that wrecked the economy somehow got away unscathed from law enforcement. The Sung family waged a five year legal battle to defend itself and its legacy in the Chinatown community.
Lin will produce with his Perfect Storm Entertainment cohorts Mary Lee, Ernesto Foronda and Elizabeth Urwin. The doc’s producer Mark Mitten will also be a producer, with Julie Goldman a co-producer. The film’s director, Hoop Dreams helmer Steve James is exec producer.
Kenneth Lin has been set to adapt the story. Lin has been a writer on House of Cards, and is an award winning playwright. After directing studio blockbusters including several of the Fast & Furious franchise, Lin takes a decided turn back to his movie making origins that saw him break in with the provocative Sundance indie Better Luck Tomorrow. He last directed Star Trek: Beyond and is developing Space Jam 2 at Warner Bros and The Standoff for Netflix.
The docu was released over the summer by PBS Distribution and it will be broadcast on Frontline tomorrow.
“This is a quintessential American story told from a point of view that is rarely seen on screen. The Sung family’s collective act of courage needs to be told, especially now,” said Justin Lin.
“We are pleased that this story will have a chance to reach an even wider audience,” says Thomas Sung, the founder of Abacus Federal Savings Bank and featured in the film. “For us, this was never just the story of our family bank. It’s a cautionary tale about the larger struggle for justice in our community.”
Lin is repped by CAA and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern. Mitten was repped by Irene Viksman Flores of Eisner Jaffe.