Chen Gang as taxi driver Lao Shi in  Old Stone , a film by Johnny Ma. (Zeitgeist Films photo)

Chen Gang as taxi driver Lao Shi in Old Stone , a film by Johnny Ma. (Zeitgeist Films photo)

A look into unseen, Kafkaesque Chinese bureaucracy

The Vernon Film Society presents Old Stone, which will be shown Monday at the Towne theatre

The second movie of the Vernon Film Society’s Spring season is Old Stone (Lao Shi), which will be shown Monday at the Towne Cinema.

This impressive debut by Chinese-Canadian director Johnny Ma won best first Canadian feature prize at Toronto International Film Festival and also one of the top 10 Canadian Films of 2016 by the same organization.

It is a dark story of taxi driver Lao Shi, played by Chen Gang in an extraordinary performance, who inadvertently hits a motor cyclist when his drunken passenger pulls at his arm. An ambulance fails to arrive, so Shi decides to drive the injured man to hospital himself and then finds himself financially responsible for the man’s medical care. Now plunged into a bureaucratic nightmare and faced with financial ruin, he is forced to embrace retribution as his only possible escape. This unique look into a side of Chinese life we rarely see is a tense story of a man spiraling into a nightmare, from which there seems to be no escape.

“Ma’s ambitious feature debut will tie your stomach in knots and make you question everything from moral responsibility to individualism in the New China,” said Glenn Sumi of NOW Toronto.

Old Stone is showing at the Vernon Towne Cinema on Monday at 5.15pm and 7.45pm. Tickets are $7, cash only, and will be available at the Bean Scene and the theatre one week ahead.