‘The Dissident’ Review: Murdered Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s Tragic Fate Is a Somber Call to Action

IndieWire | 1/25/2020 | Staff
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When Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, the global outrage was instantaneous. Nevertheless, a year and a half later, the murky circumstances behind his death remain a source of constant speculation, and despite the Saudi Arabian government’s decision to execute several unidentified men for the crime, it remains unclear just how much justice has been served.

Khashoggi’s death almost certainly stemmed from his criticism of the Saudi Arabian government, and the idea that Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman had no idea about it simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. “The Dissident,” documentarian Bryan Fogel’s somber recap of the circumstances surrounding the tragic event, presents an urgent and essential opportunity to set the record straight.

Fogel - Olympics - Exposé - Icarus - Focuses

Unlike Fogel’s Oscar-winning Olympics doping exposé “Icarus,” the new documentary focuses less on new information than condensing and making sense of the situation as it stands. It makes up for a dry and sometimes stilted filmmaking approach through sheer clarity of purpose: Khashoggi’s name may have generated headlines, but “The Dissident” goes beyond the details of his demise to position them in the broader context of his career. Fogel assembles a sturdy compendium of talking heads to explain how Khashoggi managed to speak truth to power for so long, and why his fate reverberates for other Saudis who share his sentiments.

To that end, the movie’s chief subject is fighting the same battles. Montreal-based video blogger Omar Abdulaziz, a 27-year-old pundit whose anti-Saudi government tweets led to his expulsion, provides a centerpiece for Fogel’s narrative as he jumps between the investigation into Khashoggi’s death and his work leading up to that point. Abdulaziz, whose siblings remain imprisoned as a result of his public activism abroad, embodies the ethos that ultimately sealed Khashoggi’s terrible fate. Watching the young man explain his...
(Excerpt) Read more at: IndieWire
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