Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: When the War Comes

Over the past decade, there has been a steep rise in nationalism and right-wing factions and parties across Europe. Fuelled largely by the refugee crisis and government austerity measures, we’ve seen a marked rise in populism and the popularity of xenophobic groups. This has been exacerbated by politicians putting their own careers ahead of personal beliefs and their unwillingness to address genuine public concern. When the War Comes is a cautionary tale about the kind of groups which can fill this void.

Jan Gebert’s film centres on the Slovak Recruits, a paramilitary group which runs bootcamps and promotes the superiority of the Slavic blood. Led by the charismatic Peter Svrcek, they manage to skirt around the law and have a lot of tacit support within the country. Gebert follows them in their daily lives, on their paramilitary camps and in their publicity campaigns; emphasising the apparent normality of these ‘recruits’. Indeed, Peter is studying Archaeology at Bratislava University.

When the War Comes is a frightening documentary which demonstrates what can happen in a county where politicians allow discontent to fester. Gebert highlights the danger of letting this type of organisation gain grassroots support. It only takes one charismatic leader and who knows what might happen. Indeed, Peter’s move into politics needs to ne monitored closely. Parts of Europe are a powder keg waiting to explode. It could only take one spark to ignite. When the War Comes is a rare insight into a potential fascist future.

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