Review: The Dissident
The Dissident chronicles the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In October 2018, Khashoggi entered his country's embassy in Turkey to pick up some paperwork for his approaching wedding. He never came out. Eventually, it came to light that he had been killed by the order of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This eye-opening documentary by filmmaker Bryan Fogel aims to find out why.
Clear and concise, the film provides insight into how Khashoggi lived in order to shine a light on why he was murdered. For many years he worked as a journalist, the face of Saudi journalism in fact. His insider status allowed him to see the ambitious rise of Mohammed bin Salman to power, also known as MBS. MBS was more progressive than previous leaders and initially, Khashoggi praised him. However, MBS began to threaten free speech and Khashoggi became a critic of his government, supporting the Arab Spring uprising. He eventually had to leave his family and homeland to flee to America, where he worked for the Washington Post.
In America, he did not stop fighting. Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi dissident who also had to flee, provides the truest accounts of Khashoggi's resistance. Abdulaziz has established a group of online dissidents who take on MBS and his trolls hired to drown out any voices that go against his rule. 80% of the country of Saudi Arabia uses Twitter and it has become a powerful tool for both sides.
Fogel does a wonderful job of making everything clear. He focusses often on the humanity at stake in the fight here. The film is often horrifying and moving at the same time. He makes a thoughtful account of what happened while painting a picture of freedom under attack. The Dissident is as much a true-crime doc as it is a piece of activism in support of the free press. It does all this and preserves the legacy of an unknown hero.