Life & Culture

Film review: The Dissident

A chilling examination of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi gets five stars from our critic


On October 2 2018, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents related to his planned marriage and was never heard from again.

It has since been alleged that within minutes of his arrival at the consulate, the renowned critic of the Saudi state and its Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had been murdered, his body subsequently dismembered and disposed of, while his Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz waited for his return outside the building.

The story behind Khashoggi’s disappearance and the events that led to it are told in this eye-opening account courtesy of Oscar-winning director Bryan Fogel (Jewtopia, Icarus). In it, Fogel and co-writer Mark Monroe present a commendably unflinching critique of the Saudi state’s tyranny and of its persecution of political dissidents.

Through numerous and frequent talking-head interviews including UN officials, Turkish authorities and Khashoggi’s friends, Fogel paints a grim picture of how a once champion of his native Saudi’s government, became one of its loudest detractors. We are transported into a world of espionage, cyber-hacking and protest via social media — Khashoggi and his fellow dissidents were very vocal on Twitter in particular.

Fogel offers a dense, honest and at times incredibly moving film. The Dissident often reads like a testament of Khashoggi’s bravery and decency in a world where telling the truth comes at a price. This is a truly absorbing story about a mild-mannered intellectual who became a modern symbol of journalistic integrity and paid with his life.


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