Starring Chen Gang, Nai An (Suzhou River, When Night Falls,) Wang Hongwei (Platform, Unknown Pleasures, Still Life)

Films We Like is pleased to present the North American Premiere of Johnny Ma’s debut feature film Old Stone (Lao Shi) at the Toronto International Film Festival in the Discovery Programme.

No stranger to TIFF, Ma has presented two short films at the festival; The Genius from Quintino (2013) and A Grand Canal (2014) and was the winner of Telefilm Canada’s Pitch This! at TIFF in 2014.

In Johnny Ma’s thrilling debut feature, Old Stone (Lao Shi), a Chinese taxi driver finds himself plunged into a Kafkaesque nightmare where no good deed goes unpunished. Beginning as a gritty social-realist drama before u-turning into a blood-drenched noir, Old Stone follows the repercussions of a car accident in a society where life is cheap and compassion is ruinously expensive. 

When a drunken passenger causes Lao Shi (in a magnificent performance by Chen Gang) 
to swerve and hit a motorcyclist, he stops to help the injured man. When no police or ambulance arrive he drives the victim to the hospital, checks him in and finds himself liable for the man’s medical bills. The repercussions of Shi’s selfless act expose a society rife with bone-chilling callousness and bureaucratic indifference. On the verge of losing his cab, his job and his family, Lao Shi has to resort to desperate measures to survive.

Old Stone (Lao Shi) is distributed in Canada by Films We Like and will open in theatres in Canada, November 2016.  The U.S. distributor Zeitgeist Films will release the film in NYC on November 30, 2016.

Johnny Ma, Director, Screenwriter
Johnny was born as Nan Ma, in Shanghai, China, and immigrated to Toronto at age of ten. After careers in mergers acquisition in the business and fashion world, Johnny first made the move to documentary filmmaking in 2008. Graduating from Columbia University’s M.F.A. in the Directing / Screenwriting film program, Johnny’s short films have screened at TIFF, Dallas International Film Festival, Aspen Shortfest and other international festivals, while receiving awards from DGA and National Board of Review as well as a nomination for the Canadian Screen Awards.

Johnny is currently developing his second feature project also set in China. He is a recent alum of the 2014 Sundance Institute Screenwriting / Directing Lab and winner of the Telefilm Canada Pitch This! competition.

Nai An, Actor, Executive Producer
Actress Nai An, who plays Lao Shi’s wife Mao Mao, and executive-produced the film, is best known as the long time producing partner of acclaimed Chinese director Lou Ye whose films include Suzhou River and the Cannes competition entries Summer Palace and Purple Butterfly. She also won the Best Actress award at Locarno for her performance in When Night Falls.

Founded by award-winning documentary filmmaker Ron Mann (Grass, Comic Book Confidential, Altman) Films We Like is a boutique distributor of documentary, independent and international films in Canada. Recent releases include Force Majeure, Finding Vivian Maier, and the Academy Award-winner Ida.

Running time:  80 minutes
Origin:  China/Canada
Mandarin with English subtitles

Download press notes, hi-res images

Canadian Media Contact for Films We Like:
Virginia Kelly, Meghan Parnell
V Kelly & Associates

Media Contact for Zeitgeist Films:
Sophie Gluck 
Aimee Morris