Zhang Yuan to release new film

Indie director busted for drugs in 2008

HONG KONG -- Independent Chinese director Zhang Yuan said Wednesday he is releasing his first movie in the communist nation since he was detained in a drug bust more than a year ago.

Zhang, known for taking on sensitive social issues, including homosexuality and mental illness, was detained for allegedly using illegal drugs after police officers raided his home in Beijing in January 2008. The scandal grew when footage of the police raid -- showing an irritated Zhang talking back to police officers -- circulated on the Internet. It was unclear how long he was held.

The 45-year-old director said in a phone interview Wednesday that Chinese film regulators -- known for their aversion to sex, crime and political controversy -- have not punished him for the drug scandal and that he plans to release his new film, "Dada's Dance," nationally on Sept. 11.

The drama is about a young woman who takes to the road after she is falsely told that her mother is not her birth mother. Zhang said the film's distributor, Beijing Polybona Film Distribution Co., still has not decided how many screens to release the movie on.

However, "Dada's Dance," is getting a late release in China. It held its world premiere nearly a year ago at the Pusan International Film Festival in October 2008. Asked about the long delay, Zhang said he was "working on other things" but did not elaborate on why his plans had delayed the release.

Zhang was also vague when asked about the drug bust, hanging up after answering several questions. It is not clear if he was charged with any crime. Zhang denied using drugs in the footage of the police raid.

"I've done everything that I should do," Zhang said.

Zhang's credits include "Mama," "Beijing Bastards," "The Square" and "East Palace West Palace," which boldly explored the power play between a police officer and a gay man and set off alarms among Chinese censors. Chinese officials confiscated his passport to prevent him from promoting the film overseas, and the movie was never shown in China.

Chinese film regulators weren't immediately available for comment. A woman who answered the phone at China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said spokesman Zhu Hong was not in