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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 May, 2003, 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK
Sars movies in pipeline
Gong Li
Chinese actress Gong Li is considering playing a nurse

Movie studios in China and Hong Kong have begun work on projects about the mystery illness Sars.

Two separate films about the respiratory syndrome, which has killed at least 219 in China and 204 in Hong Kong, are due to begin shooting, reported Screen Daily.

Hong Kong's Mandarin Films is producing The City of Sars, directed by Steve Cheung, which is due for release as early as July.

Billed as a comedy drama, it will interweave three stories centred around the rise of the illness.

One is a love story about two people who meet when they are forced into quarantine.

The second revolves around Hong Kong's medical workers and their struggle to cope.

The third involves a businessman who attempts to catch Sars after the illness makes him bankrupt.

Award-winning actress Gong Li is considering taking a role in a Chinese movie about Sars, according to the Beijing Times.

Festival cancelled

If she takes the part she will play a nurse who treats many victims of the Sars virus before catching it herself.

Gong is one of the best-known Chinese actresses in the West, and most closely associated with Raise the Red Lantern.

She won a best supporting actress New York Film Critics Circle Award in 1993 for Ba Wang Bie Ji and has won numerous accolades in the Far East.

Meanwhile, the organisers of the Shanghai International Film Festival have decided to cancel this year's event, scheduled to start on 7 June.

The 7th annual event was called off over fears that regular guests would stay away because of the Sars epidemic and that those who arrive from other infected areas could spread the virus and make the situation worse.

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