Watch for Hampton native Steve James on Oscar night

Hampton High School graduate Steve James has been one of the nation’s top documentary filmmakers for a quarter-century, but he did not receive his first Academy Award nomination until this year, for “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.” On Sunday night, he will find out whether he takes home the statuette in the documentary feature category.

The film focuses on Abacus Family Savings Bank, a small, family owned bank in Manhattan’s Chinatown that was the only financial institution to face criminal charges in the massive subprime mortgage crisis.

James is best known for his 1994 epic “Hoop Dreams,” and also has made such acclaimed documentaries as “Steve” (2003), “The Interrupters” (2011), and “No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson” (2010) in the ESPN “30 for 30” series.

Upon getting the Oscar nomination this year after such a long wait, James told the Daily Press: “I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to make films that I want to make, and they’ve gotten out into the world and didn’t disappear. …

“It is really satisfying to have it happen with ‘Abacus.’ At this point in my career, it’s nice. So many people have called to congratulate me, and it’s so sweet and nice. It’s made me think about all the films I’ve had the opportunity to make, and it just reminds me that I’m very fortunate.”

ABC-TV’s coverage of the Academy Awards ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. Sunday, preceded by the scene on the red carpet starting at 5:30. Other networks and online sources will be reporting from the red carpet throughout the day.

Holtzclaw can be reached by phone at 757-928-6479 or on Twitter @mikeholtzclaw.

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