The Netherlands, 2010, 90 min.
Right when a new minority coalition is laboriously coming into being in the Netherlands, two new documentaries try and shed an informative light on recent Dutch politics. Things have been messy in Dutch politics for quite a while.
In 2000, Dutch publicist Paul Scheffer wrote an essay entitled “The Multicultural Drama”, arguing the failure of multiculturalism in the Netherlands. It set off a huge debate. Since 9/11, the Netherlands has allied itself with the United States in their War on Terror. In May 2002, days before the general election, Pim Fortuyn, the first politician to be openly critical of Islam and popular because of it, was murdered. His party won but proved a poor coalition partner in the first Balkenende cabinet. It fell in just a few months.
Criticism on Islam grew though, with parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the late Theo van Gogh, murdered in 2004, at the forefront. In 2006, Hirsi Ali nearly lost her Dutch citizenship in an attempt by the then Minister for Immigration, Rita Verdonk, to underscore her determination and law-abiding attitude. Hirsi Ali resigned and left for the USA. The affair ended the second Balkenende cabinet. Fortuyn’s party was now in ruins and disappeared. Enter Geert Wilders and his antiIslam Party for Freedom, which won the elections last June, after the fourth and final Balkenende cabinet fell. This ultra brief overview shows that a documentary reflecting on recent politics might not be overdue. Two filmmakers got a chance to do just that.
In Wilders – The Movie, filmmakers Joost van der Valk and Mags Gavan try to portray Geert Wilders. One of Wilders’ pet topics is that certain media are left wing and conspiring against him. Arts and culture are leftist hobbies. So Van der Valk is his own worst enemy when he keeps introducing himself as being from VPRO television, which is considered leftist/ progressive. And Van der Valk isn’t even from VPRO television. Failing to get to speak to Wilders, he and Gavan follow every single lead they find in an effort to find something out about Wilders: leads to his past, his friends and enemies, his voters and financiers and his political allies – just about anyone. But the film lacks direction.
Van der Valk and Gavan put out many feelers; they travel to the US and Israel but they don’t get anywhere. The film lacks focus and structure. Lacking Wilders, Van der Valk seems to have put himself in the film, which is quite annoying. And after 75 minutes it suddenly ends. All we have learned by then is that Wilders had dark long curls when he was young and that he used to paint. Unintentionally, the only thing Van der Valk and Gavan show us is that Wilders does not wish to account for himself. But we really already knew that too.
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