Centering on the ABC Loan Co., a twenty-five year old pawnshop/checkcashing outlet, NO LOANS TODAY documents daily life in the African-American community of South Central Los Angeles. The film explores the lives of several people who've either chosen or been forced to remain in this community.
With interviews and cinema-verité scenes of day-to-day living, NO LOANS TODAY examines the relationship between pawnshops and checkcashing outlets - also known as "fringe banks" - to other economic problems that this community endures, such as crime and unemployment.
The recent proliferation of fringe banks completes a cycle of economic marginalization that began when industries left the area and banks began to redline South Central against business loans. Portraying the pawnshop as a metaphor for survival, the film explores economic and psychological marginalization, and reveals the unseen resiliency of the people of this community.
"Right on target and quite moving... From the amazingly forthright interviews, one gets in a very brief span a feel for many of the complex issues associated with inner-city, black poverty."—Professor John P. Caskey, Author, 'Fringe Banking: Check Cashing Outlets, Pawnshops, and the Poor'
Editor's Choice, Booklist (1996)
1995 Sundance Film Festival
1995 AFI Los Angeles Film Festival
1995 San Francisco Film Festival
1995 Florida Film Festival
"Portraying the pawnshop as a symbol for survival [the film] explores both economic and psychological marginalization - and possibly reveals more about the recent riots than all the newscast footage of that conflagaration. It possesses a poignancy and a power that last long after its viewing."—Sundance Film Festival
"A gentle polemic... Interviews with people in the community sketch out a world in which options are as limited as credit."—Bay Guardian
"Fascinating! Skyler never editorializes; there's no narration, just a march of faces explaining, in oblique terms, the effects of poverty and racial discrimination on their daily existence. Amazingly, the bleakness of the burnt-out vacant lots is tempered by determination and defiant self-esteem. Should be required viewing for any public office holder."—Billboard
"This mesmerizing look at a slice of life in a hostile urban environment has much to offer for both general audiences and classroom viewers."—Booklist