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Exclusive: Zeitgeist Films Picks Up Johnny Ma’s Debut Feature ‘Old Stone’

Exclusive: Zeitgeist Films Picks Up Johnny Ma's Debut Feature 'Old Stone'

Zeitgeist Films has picked up distribution rights to Johnny Ma’s heart-pounding feature debut, “Old Stone,” which debuted at the Berlin Film Festival in February. Billed as a canny combo of “gritty social-realist drama” and “blood-drenched noir,” the film follows taxi driver Lao Shi (played by Chen Gang) as he is unexpectedly plunged into a nightmare of urban survival and bureaucracy (both equally chilling).

After accidentally hitting and injuring a motorcyclist while on the job, Lao Shi stops to help the man, ultimately taking him to the hospital, where he discovers he is liable for the man’s copious medical bills. Shi’s act, borne out of compassion, soon spirals outward to envelope every aspect of his life with desperation and trouble. 

The film debuted at Berlinale to very positive acclaim, including a review from Variety that lauded its “documentary-like authenticity” and noted that it “[channels] the style of gritty mainland independent films but without the usual longueurs, the film deftly morphs into a suspense thriller with Dostoevskyan undertones.”

READ MORE: Zeitgeist Films Acquires Tom Sachs’ and Van Neistat’s ‘A Space Program’

Of the acquisition, Zeitgeist Co-Presidents Nancy Gerstman and Emily Russo commented that they “could not believe that this could be a first film by this supremely confident and talented director. Johnny is so in command of his material we were really bowled over. We are thrilled to be the distributors of ‘Old Stone’ and can’t wait to share it with exhibitors and the public.”

Zeitgeist will open the film in the fall, with a national rollout to follow. 

Check out a clip from another upcoming Zeitgeist release, Tom Sachs’ “A Space Program,” below:

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