Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

SERIES
Steve James

February 9–23
Twenty-three years after his masterpiece Hoop Dreams was inexplicably neglected by the documentary branch of the Academy Awards, great American filmmaker Steve James was finally rewarded this year with a Best Documentary nomination for his New York–set David and Goliath tale, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail. During the intervening years, he has made over a dozen films, including critically celebrated works such as The Interrupters, Life Itself, and Stevie, but only the two films presented in this series have been recognized with Oscar nominations, with Hoop Dreams landing a nod in 1995 for Best Editing—one of only two documentaries to ever be nominated in that category. Throughout his career, James has worked with the Chicago-based company Kartemquin Films, which the Museum celebrated with a 50th anniversary retrospective in 2016. In addition to Abacus, Kartemquin produced another Oscar-nominated film this year, the short Edith+Eddie. The two films will screen together throughout this series, which will culminate in a career-spanning discussion with James, featuring clips and special guests.