Nothing piques my interest quite like a feature-length film based on a documentary. It’s something of a rare occurrence in Hollywood  —  movies that begin their lives as documentaries aren’t typically commercially successful enough to encourage further adaptation  —  but rare doesn’t mean impossible. A quick Google search will reveal plenty of documentary adaptations, including Man on a Wire and Grey Gardens, that went onto some semblance of success with critics and audiences alike. Every now and then, you come across a story so strange  —  so absolutely overwhelming  —  that you simply have to bring it to the screen a second time.

That’s what filmmaker Justin Lin will be doing with the PBS documentary Abacus: Small Enough to Jail. As reported by The Wrap, Abacus, a documentary about the only American bank to be federally prosecuted during the financial crisis of the last decade, has caught the eye of the former Fast Five and Star Trek Beyond director. In addition to the film’s prestigious director, Kenneth Lin of House of Cards fame will write the script, giving Abacus a pretty solid pedigree before it ever hits the screen.

While Abacus has yet to have its broadcast premiere  —  The Wrap notes that the movie was only released in limited theaters earlier this year after its 2016 Toronto International Film Festival premiere  —  the reviews of the film have been very positive. The New York Times called it a “stealth home movie” that offers a glowing portrait of two generations of American immigrants. And as if the story being adapted weren’t enough, there’s also the very important subtext to consider regarding Abacus. This is an Asian-American director adapting a script by an Asian-American screenwriter about an Asian-American family, the kind of behind-the-scenes diversity of talent that most Hollywood studios give lip service to (but few actually deliver). That makes Abacus the kind of movie anyone with half a conscious can get behind.


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