Rarely can I recall a filmmaker following up an Academy Award winning film with an even more magnificent movie. Such is the case with Bryan Fogel’s fantastic documentary “The Dissident.”
On October 2, 2018, Washington Post journalist and critic of the Saudi Arabian government, Jamal Khashoggi, walked into the country’s consulate in Istanbul never to be seen again. Jamal Khashoggi was murdered and disappeared in Istanbul that day. Together with his fiancée and other dissidents, Fogel pieces together clues to expose a glaring global cover up.
In the months that followed Jamal Khashoggi’s death and disappearance, there were contradicting complex narratives emerging of what transpired. Saudi officials proclaimed Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue operation” while Turkish officials state “the order came down from the highest levels” in the Saudi government. Bryan Fogel’s documentary attempts to dissect what happened to Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
“The Dissident” is a compelling, comprehensive examination of Jamal Khashoggi’s death. Fogel fiercely presents a detailed documentary that no rock was unturned and conveys a somber account while implicating the Saudi ruling family. Although no longer readily discussed here in the United States, the global ramifications and riveting revelations certainly contained illustrate a larger global political problem.
For those unfamiliar or need a refresher course,, was once a close confident of the Saudi royal family and adviser to the government. However, after a self-exile in 2017, Jamal Khashoggi infamously started writing a highly critical column about the Saudi government for The Washington Post. On the day he disappeared, Khashoggi visited the Saudi consulate to obtain a marriage license and never came out on October 2, 2018. Despite denials and delays, too much misinformation exists of what really happened that fateful day.
Fogel’s vigorous investigation is exhaustively extensive and a modern day masterpiece with investigative filmmaking. One of the primary interviewees is fellow dissident Omar Abdulaziz, who resides in Montreal and constantly conveys his worst nightmares of Saudi agents tracking him down. Additionally, Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who waited outside the consulate on October 2, 2018, also provides plausible repercussions for proudly and publicly stating your disagreements against the Saudi government.
Much like a classic Hollywood thriller, the sharp score enhances the suspenseful storyline with wonderful editing. “The Dissident” at times doesn’t feel like a documentary, but something in the realm of a “Bourne Identity” movie. The film fantastically pulls in viewers who would not normally seek out political documentaries by creating these tantalizing techniques. “The Dissident” has all the makings of an instant classic Hollywood thriller, but instead it’s actually an effective, essential entertaining piece of filmmaking.
Bryan Fogel has mastered the art of documentary filmmaking, once again providing an extremely poignant picture solidifying his mark as a premiere documentarian. We’re witnessing a fierce filmmaker tackling controversial subject matters head on without hesitation. For those brave enough I would strongly advise watching “The Dissident” with “Coup 53” as a double feature if possible.
4 out of 4 stars
In Theaters December 25th and Video on Demand January 8th
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