Zhang Ziyi Stars As AIDS Patient in New China Film

Actress Zhang Ziyi says she signed on to play an AIDS patient in her new movie because she’s a big fan of the director, a frequent collaborator with well-known Chinese directors Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou.

“We actually met many years ago, but always missed the chance to work together,” Zhang said Tuesday at a press conference for Gu Changwei’s “A Tale of Magic.”

It was Zhang’s first public appearance since a torrent of bad press over her botched donations to victims of the massive earthquake in China’s Sichuan province in 2008. Rumors surfaced online in January, accusing Zhang of only giving a portion of the 1 million yuan ($146,000) she had promised for relief work.

Zhang recently acknowledged that only a portion of the donated 1 million yuan was transferred initially. In an interview with the state-run China Daily newspaper, Zhang attributed the problem to her lack of philanthropy experience and said she made up for the difference in March.

Asked to reflect on her extended absence, Zhang skirted the issue, saying, “I will continue to strive for success and make good movies.”

Her new film is a love story about a couple with AIDS. Zhang co-stars with Hong Kong actor-singer Aaron Kwok. Shooting on the film continues.

Best known as a cinematographer, Gu gained international fame with his directorial debut, winning the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2005 for his epic “Peacock.”

Zhang made her film debut in famed Zhang Yimou’s heartwarming 1999 love story “The Road Home,” but her career took off when Oscar-winning director Ang Lee cast her in his 2000 kung fu hit “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”