This is the latest documentary from the Oscar winning director Bryan Fogel. It tells the dramatic story from 2018 about the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Turkey by agents of the Saudi government.
This documentary was extremely powerful and disturbing. The film presents its story much like a political thriller, with mood-inducing music and dramatic interviews of the people involved.
The main arc of the tale is told through the eyes of a couple of the major people involved. First , there was Omar, a Saudi national and activist, who had befriended Khashoggi. Together, they had engaged in an effort to counteract the Saudi’s propaganda techniques on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Second main person, bringing this murder plot its human connection, is Khashoggi’s fiancé Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside of the consulate for Khashoggi on the fateful day. Khashoggi had gone to the consulate for paperwork allowing the pair to be married and Hatice waited hours outside for him to return. He never did.
The most difficult part of the movie was the audio transcript that had been uncovered that spelled out the murder in specifics, including the record of the use of the bonesaw to cut up the body. Even in written word, this created a horrid picture of what had happened that will stick with a viewer.
This documentary feels very relevant in the world today. Not only because of the alleged involvement of the Saudi government and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, but also for the attempt from the Saudi government to silence the free speech of a journalist. It is important to understand how easily freedom of speech can be removed, especially when you have attacks on the media designed to undermine what the media said or to dub them as “enemies.” It feels as if it is a short step from that to this.
And after all of the film is over, the text at the end that tells you where everything stands is infuriating. It makes you wonder what the important things in the world truly are.
The Dissident is an important story told in a engaging and professional manner. It has a powerful, human story that should move right thinking people emotionally. Fogel has another substantial and forceful doc.