‘The Foolish Old Man’ tells the story of four social activists in China: a poverty-alleviation campaigner (Deng Fei), an environmental activist (Dashi), a labor organizer (Zhang Zhiru) and a pro-democracy dissident (Hu Jia).
The film addresses their complex relationship with the Government in Beijing and the different, sometimes conflicting, paths of action they choose to take: from those who confront the Government to those who believe that avoiding conflict can bear more fruit.
‘The Foolish Old Man’ defies the widespread prejudice that no citizen can make his voice heard under the rule of the Communist Party. Civil society does exist in China. Many people fight for a better country and their work has achieved progress in some areas.
However, civil society is always limited, often sabotaged and sometimes violently crushed by a system that prioritizes its own survival to anything else.