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Calls to axe 'racist' Zulu film from Folkestone's Silver Screen Cinema listings

Campaigners are calling for a charity showing of epic war film Zulu to be axed over claims it contains “racist overtones.”

The 1964 classic will be aired at Folkestone’s Silver Screen Cinema on Saturday to raise aid for armed forces charity SSAFA.

But in an open letter to Folkestone Mayor and district councillor Ann Berry some 28 people came out in protest this month.

Zulu - 1964 epic (2702186)
Zulu - 1964 epic (2702186)

The charity works to help improve the lives of military veterans and their families.

The letter, addressed to Cllr Berry says: “We wholeheartedly support the efforts being made to raise funds for SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity.

“(But) we believe that the choice of the film Zulu, with its inaccurate portrayal of historical events and its distortions and racist overtones, could have a negative effect on relationships within the changing and richly diverse communities here in Folkestone.”

Zulu - 1964 epic (2702188)
Zulu - 1964 epic (2702188)

The letter goes on to take issue with perceived factual inaccuracies surrounding the film, including the Battle at Rorkes Drift, the film’s premise.

It continues: “However, the so-called epic story of ‘honour courage and pride’ portrayed is far from the truth about what really happened.

“This film glorifies the myth that was created in 1879 after the humiliation of the British military de-feat at the battle of Isandlwana.

“The Battle of Rorke’s Drift was, in reality, little more than a footnote after a far more important, and far more gory battle earlier in the day, 11 miles away at Isandlwana.”

It goes on to say the protest group has contacted organisers Bigger Boat Pictures in the hope it will cancel the7pm showing, set to be held at the Town Hall in Guildhall Street.

Cllr Berry and Tom Langlands, Bigger Boat Pictures boss have been contacted for comment.

Tom Langlands. Picture: Martin Apps (2702687)
Tom Langlands. Picture: Martin Apps (2702687)

Meanwhile Bigger Boat’s website says: “We're delighted to announce a special screening of Zulu ahead of Armed Forces Day with proceeds going to SSAFA - The Armed Forces Charity - a winning outcome for all serving members and former members of all ranks of the armed forces and their dependents.”

Organiser Tom Langlands said: "Come and see this rare screening of Zulu (1964) on Armed Forces Day, Saturday 30th June, help raise funds for SSAFA - the Armed Forces Charity (Shorncliffe branch) and make up your own mind whether this is a timeless tale of courage, honour and pride or a product of yesteryear that has no currency and should be banned.

"Everyone is welcome to attend and express their own opinion before and after the screening."

A spokesman for SSAFA added that airing the film could spark discussion about the film's "deeper themes."

“The local White Cliffs division of the Kent branch are hosting a film night to raise money for the Armed Forces community," she explained.

“A vote was held on social media to decide which film would be shown, either Where Eagles Dare or Zulu. Members of the public voted for Zulu to be shown.

“This is a light-hearted fundraiser for an important cause.

“Whilst the film has caused some discussion in more recent times, it is important not to gloss over parts of our history that make us feel uncomfortable.

“Rather than censoring a subject, a viewing could form a basis for discussion about the deeper themes in the film.”

Cllr Berry added: “It’s just a film with a poetic licence, I’ve seen it many times and I don’t see the colour of people’s skin, I see a war between two countries.

“I’m a councillor, I can’t go around telling people what they can and can’t watch.

“And this event is for charity. No I wouldn’t try telling them not to watch it at all.”

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