Old Stone: A Masterfully Directed Kafkaesque Thriller

Among four films with elements of thriller in the 14th ZFF main selection is Old Stone, directed by the Chinese-Canadian director Johnny Ma. It is a story about a taxi driver who accidentally causes a car crash, after which he plunges into a Kafkaesque grind of bureaucracy and insane Chinese insurance regulations.

In China there is a legal loophole that makes it ‘more affordable’ to kill a person than to pay a share in the hospital bill. Our protagonist Lao Shi is a good-hearted taxi driver who was not even aware of this when he had an accident.

The reality he faces is that no one cares about his case or any notion of justice as such. They all want to make him somebody else’s problem, best his own, making Lao a victim of bureaucracy and a perverted list of human priorities. Director Johnny Ma criticises alienated society where benevolence is no longer profitable. This skilfully directed and atmospheric film thus becomes an overwhelming emotional experience motivating us to think about all the links in the chain of human wellbeing in the present time.

Among the most important awards given to this debut is the Best Canadian Debut Film at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival. The Croatian premiere of Old Stone is scheduled for tomorrow, 13 November at 9.30pm, Europa Cinema.