“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” Wins Critics’ Choice Award

"Abacus: Small Enough to Jail" director Steve James at CAAMFest 2017
"Abacus: Small Enough to Jail" director Steve James at CAAMFest 2017

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail recently garnered a 2017 Critics’ Choice Documentary Award for Best Political Documentary. The film is funded in part by the Center for Asian American Media, through support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The documentary aired on PBS’ Frontline series earlier this fall.

The film is directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Steve James (Hoops Dreams, The Interrupters) and is produced by Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman. Check out CAAM’s exclusive Q&A with James here.

In a statement read at the awards ceremony by Goldman on behalf of James, the filmmakers said that they wish to share the award with “the true heroes of this film: Mr. and Ms. Sung and their family, who showed great courage in defending their bank and community against an overzealous prosecutor…This award confirms what we filmmakers discovered firsthand: the Sungs are an inspiration to all who resist the unequal application of justice in America no matter where you live. Thank you.”

In addition, CAAMFest 2017 film Cries from Syria received a (tie) Best Director award for director Evgeny Afineevsky, who attended CAAMFest earlier this year. PBS’ American Masters series, which aired CAAM-funded film TYRUS, directed by Pamela Tom, this fall, received an award for Best Ongoing Documentary Series.

The awards program, in its second year, honors the “best of the best,” in documentary and nonfiction filmmaking, said Broadcast Film Critics Association President Joey Berlin.

Here’s the full list of winners:

FULL WINNERS LISTBest​ ​Documentary: ​Jane
Best​ ​Director​ ​(TIE): Evgeny Afineevsky (Cries from Syria) and Frederick Wiseman (Ex Libris: The New York Public Library)
Best​ ​First​ ​Documentary: Kedi
Best​ ​Political​ ​Documentary: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Best​ ​Sports​ ​Documentary: ​Icarus
Best​ ​Music​ ​Documentary​: Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives
Best​ ​Song​ ​in​ ​a​ ​Documentary:​ Jump (Step) – written by Raphael Saadiq, Taura Stinson and Laura Karpman, performed by Cynthia Erivo
Best​ ​Documentary​ ​Series:​ The Vietnam War
Best​ ​Ongoing​ ​Documentary​ ​Series: American Masters
Most​ ​Innovative​ ​Documentary​ ​(TIE):​ Dawson City: Frozen Time and Last Men in Aleppo