The Dissident Review Movie
The Dissident Review
If you were to look through the genre menus of any service that screens, The Dissident would undoubtedly belong in the documentary category. However, this is done to make Bryan Fogel's enthralling non-fiction short. In it, he examines Khashoggi's murder, Saudi Arabian writer and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, The Dissident blends the genres of political suspense, drama about espionage crime procedural love story, and horror. By weaving these diverse threads, Fogel's film examines ideas of technology, power as well as state-sponsored violence and dictatorship, and emerges as an argument in favor of the right to free speech, and as a pleading to those who fight to protect it.
Fogel is full of the zing of a true crime special however it's less exciting and more like serious journalism.
In its core, The Dissident intertwines Khashoggi's journey from being a Saudi monarchy insider to becoming the most vocal critic of the regime as well as an investigation into the circumstances at the point that the reporter, age 59, went into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and was never allowed back. Through speaking heads, footage from the embassy and audio recordings of transcripts of the murder, Fogel pieces together a convincing, hard-to-debate story of Khashoggi's murder and identifies individuals from mohammad bin salman's security forces as the perpetrators and presenting a clear picture that includes revealing details such as the strangulation, which lasted seven minutes, carried out in a stale meeting room, the dismemberment the body by using a bone saw; and the demand for 70lbs of beef from a local eatery to cover the smell of the burned body parts. Fogel offers all the flavor of a true crime special but it's less sensational and more like a rigorous journalism, and a convincing description of the anatomy of a popular hit.
The Dissident includes a profile of Khashoggi's ally in his activism, Omar Abdulaziz, a social media-savvy dissident living in Montreal There are a lot of photos of him on cold streets or taking the subway. Omar Abdulaziz was the one who taught Khashoggi to make use of digital media as a means of protest. There are compelling chapters that explain the ways in which the Saudi establishment employed Twitter Trolls ('flies') to shape the nation's narrative, blocking out opposition voices, and Abdulaziz's efforts to fight back with twitter-friendly armies ('bees'). To emphasize the importance of this, Fogel uses animations of combating insects, with the shocking outcome is the fact that The Dissident occasionally resembles A Bug's Life. The film does a great job of highlighting Saudi agents employing spyware to collect information with a focus on the hacking that Jeff Bezos of Amazon. Jeff Bezos, the owner of Khashoggi's company The Washington Post.
Also playing through The Dissident is a briefly sketched, yet still powerful love story. Khashoggi was at the Istanbul consulate along with his Turkish wife Hatice Cengiz to get the documents regarding their wedding. The film begins with a battle with Cengiz after the murder , as well as revealing how Khashoggi's death ended some of Saudi Arabia's plans to expand internationally. The most significant benefit, in the midst of the procedurals of 'CSI Istanbul' and geo-political saga is the image of Khashoggi who is warm, charming and a human.