This film on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi mixes criminal investigation, political analysis, computer espionage and love story, for a particularly dense and documented result.
On October 2, 2018, Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in order to retrieve papers there to remarry. It will never come out. The Dissident traces the investigation, while portraying this influential journalist from Riyadh, who gradually moved away from power, becoming more and more critical of the regime in place. In particular with regard to Prince Mohammed Ben Salman, who is openly cited as being the sponsor of his assassination.
To say that we were waiting for Bryan Fogel’s new documentary is an understatement, so much Icarus, which received the Oscar in 2017, was a crazy project: starting as a “ gonzo ” experience where the director staged himself following a doping regime, supported by doctors supervising the training professional cyclists, the plot suddenly turned into a pure thriller, when Grigory Rodchenkov, director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, found himself forced to leave Russia to save his life, and in passing revealed to the journalist all the state manipulations that have allowed the country to win multiple Olympic prizes, while endangering the health of their athletes. See him tackle ” the Khashoggi affair ” promised a new shocking documentary, filled with revelations and unpublished archives.
Icarus: the shocking docu-thriller that received the Oscar is to be seen on Netflix [critique]
Promise kept: The Dissident is actually built as a thriller. The police investigation is very documented (the transcription of Jamal’s murder, delivered by the Turkish authorities, is particularly cold in the back), but it quickly seems stuck because of the insane influence of the political regime of Saudi Arabia. Fogel, however, finds back door ways to obtain and cross-check information firsthand. Thus, the testimonies of Hatice Cengiz, the widow of Jamal Khashoggi, and of Omar Abdulaziz, a young Saudi activist refugee in Canada, offer the director the opportunity to decipher in detail the functioning of the political system of the country (the brothers and friends Omar were notably imprisoned and tortured in order to bring him back to the country), while deeply probing the personality of the victim. Little by little, we discover in Jamal a solitary figure, who, by opposing more and more openly to Prince MBS, finds himself forced to leave his country of origin and his family, for the United States. If there is apparently finally free to write what he wants in the Washington post, he must in fact be systematically on his guard, knowing that any of his articles or his tweets can be used against him. We then discover the digital harassment system set up in Riyadh to ”to rot” the slightest dissident message on social networks. A captivating fight thus begins between the “ flies ” power, responsible for drowning the posts of enemies of state under tweets of hatred and disinformation, against “ bees ” led by Omar to counter these attacks. Far fewer in number, they are determined to defend themselves against negative and misleading comments, for example by hijacking hashtags created by the Saudi government for their benefit. A mind-blowing painstaking job, which adds a new map to the docu. In addition to his well-sourced police investigation, to draw a portrait of a man searched and to tell a touching love story, The Dissident is also a modern spy film, whose anonymous agents are deployed on the web. It is also by this aspect that the MBS regime manages to close the trap on Jamal Khashoggi, who, by falling in love in the West, and not suspecting that his relatives are tapped (even Jeff Bezos, the boss of ‘Amazon which bought the Washington Post, in 2013, is spied on!) discovers at the time of his death how much he has been manipulated by the Saudi authorities.
Very dense, this documentary is also terribly topical, ” the Khashoggi affair ” transforming for a few days into “ MBS case ” : On February 26, Joe Biden released a US intelligence report officially recognizing the prince’s involvement in the journalist’s death, which endorses the The Dissident.
The Dissident has just been released on VOD. Here is his trailer:
The Dissident: “ It would be crazy to think that we are going to arrest a leader by making a film ”