Briarcliff Entertainment has acquired the domestic distribution rights to “The Dissident,” Bryan Fogel’s upcoming documentary about the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The company released the trailer for the film on Wednesday.
The documentary’s synopsis reads: “The Dissident” is an edge-of-your-seat, adrenaline-filled thriller that plays out at the highest levels of power, exposing the labyrinth of deceit behind the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi was a principled reformer who sought to create a more open society in his homeland, and who was ultimately murdered for his vocal opposition to the Saudi government.
The film, which does not have a specific release date, will feature new surveillance footage and a variety of “damning information” that was previously unavailable to the public. Interviewees include Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz; Agnès Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur who led the inquiry into the assassination; as well as Turkish police and prosecutors, cyber security experts, and Omar Abdulaziz, and a young Saudi activist with whom Khashoggi was secretly collaborating.
“The Dissident” was positively received by critics when the documentary premiered at Sundance earlier in the year. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn praised the film in his grade B review in January and noted that the film was a “somber call to action.”
“Unlike Fogel’s Oscar-winning Olympics doping exposé ‘Icarus,’ the new documentary focuses less on new information than condensing and making sense of the situation as it stands,” Kohn said in his review. “It makes up for a dry and sometimes stilted filmmaking approach through sheer clarity of purpose: Khashoggi’s name may have generated headlines, but ‘The Dissident’ goes beyond the details of his demise to position them in the broader context of his career. Fogel assembles a sturdy compendium of talking heads to explain how Khashoggi managed to speak truth to power for so long, and why his fate reverberates for other Saudis who share his sentiments.”
While “The Dissident” enjoyed a strong critical reception at Sundance, the documentary initially struggled to find a distributor. The Washington Post was among several publications that reported that the reluctance may have been due to many high-profile media companies not wanting to risk jeopardizing their financial relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Check out the trailer for “The Dissident” below: