Film Review: The Dissident

Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi journalist who worked for the Washington post. He fled his homeland into self-imposed exile in 2017 following Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s crackdown on political critics. He continued to hold the government to account from his new home in America, but became increasingly outspoken against the oppression of freedom of speech. In 2018, he entered the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul in order to get proof of divorce so he could marry his Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz. He was never seen again.

The story broke quickly, with fellow journalists understanding the potential danger and rapidly raising awareness. As did politicians around the world. The Turkish police opened an investigation which would eventually determine that Khashoggi had been murdered. This story attracted the attention of filmmaker Bryan Fogel who, after travelling to Canada to speak to Saudi dissident, blogger and fellow activist Omar Abdulaziz, decided to make The Dissident.

The Dissident is a powerful documentary which delves into the labyrinth of lies, misinformation and state oppression which surrounds the assassination. It’s clear that Saudi royal family will stop at nothing to silence dissenters and human rights activists, by fair means or foul. Fogel’s film is packed with detail and expert testimony, analysing the killing from every angle. There’s a lot to take in, and whilst The Dissident starts at quite a pace it does require a lot of concentration. Not that being thorough is a bad thing, but its stylish presentation is underlined by some impressive investigative research.

The Dissident will have its UK Premiere online at the Glasgow Film Festival on 6 March, and Irish Premiere online at the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival on 13 March. For more information visit

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