Directed by the Academy Award-winning director of ICARUS, this documentary is an exposé of the labyrinth of deceit behind the high-profile murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Featuring never-before-seen surveillance footage from inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and unprecedented access to a wealth of damning information previously unavailable to the public, this powerful film weaves together a story of courage, money, abuse of power, tyranny, love, heartbreak, and technology run amok.
The film has received rave reviews from major publications like The New York Times, Variety, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Hollywood Reporter, and RogerEbert.com. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has received high marks with a 99% audience score and a 95% rating from critics.
Despite receiving standing ovations at the Sundance Film Festival and Zurich Film Festival premieres, and awards at the Aspen and Middleburg Film Festivals, no major studio or streaming platform made an offer to acquire and distribute the film. The incongruence around the distribution of such a well-received film has sparked a vigorous discussion in major news outlets.
The New York Times led the charge with a feature article detailing the film’s trouble finding a home among the premier platforms for documentary films. The Associated Press wrote a blistering piece reminding viewers that, “In 2019, Netflix removed an episode of Hasan Minhaj’s “Patriot Act” that condemned the cover-up of Khashoggi’s murder after a Saudi complaint.” Vanity Fair explained that “multiple members of the American media sector have continued working with Saudi Arabia, even following Khashoggi’s murder.” The National Review was more blunt: “The Saudi lobby, and the Saudi propaganda machine, are well oiled.”
In 2020, Netflix did a nine-figure co-production deal with Saudi money. In addition, VICE Media Inc., the company historically engaged in cutting-edge journalism aimed at youth culture, entered into a nine-figure deal with Saudi Arabia as a result of multiple meetings between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and VICE executive chairman Shane Smith. Saudi Arabia has poured billions into companies like Disney and Facebook, and purchased a half-billion-dollar stake in entertainment company Live Nation.
THE DISSIDENT had it’s theatrical release (Briarcliff Entertainment) on Christmas Day and today marks the long-awaited on-demand release in the United States.
“This is far from over,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation. “They silenced Jamal, they will not silence this film.”