Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: Wilders

The last decade has seen a worrying trend in Western politics. The rise in popularity of right wing political parties and politicians culminated with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in 2016. However, all across Europe there has been huge gains for nationalistic and fascistic groups. Whilst the likes of Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in The Netherlands may have fallen short in the end, their defeats plaster over the real issues. The latter is the subject of Stephen Robert Morse’s documentary, Wilders.

After being expelled from the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy due to his extreme views on Islamic extremism and the EU, Geert Wilders starts his own party: Party for Freedom (PVV). Since a plot to assassinate him was foiled in 2004, he’s been under 24/7 security protection and lives in a safe house. He rarely speaks in public or gives press interviews.

Wilders states “I don’t hate Muslims, I hate Islam”, and claims the Koran is a fascist book. In early 2017 in the run up to the Dutch general election his party led in the polls. His policies include barring immigration from Muslim countries and banning the construction of new mosques. However, on many occasions he’s gone much further than that. Being charged with inciting hatred for his comments about Moroccans in 2016.

Whilst his political views are well-known, Wilders is an attempt to delve beneath the surface. To both uncover the man behind the persona and understand his influence. It’s a fascinating watch and raises many questions. Whilst not condoning his views, it obvious that no one should have to live the way he does. In fear. In hiding. In secret. It’s also clear that he’s had a profound influence on Dutch politics, moving the agenda slowly to the right. Wilders is a thought-provoking. It’s refreshing to see a subject like this approached from a different angle.

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