The Dissident



Produced and directed by Bryan Fogel, who you may know from his Academy Award-winning documentary, Icarus. The Dissident is a 2020 (although officially released in January 2021) documentary about the murder and cover-up of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. While the documentary is fascinating, the story around it and the “rumored” review bombing and interference from the Saudi government over this documentary are just as interesting to learn about.

Where to watch

The Dissident is available to watch on BBC iPlayer. If you are not in the UK, check the following links to access the iPlayer from in another location:

What's the Story?

Much like the presentation of his last documentary/movie, Icarus, The Dissident is a hard-hitting, straight to the point retelling of the events of the assassination of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi who worked for the Washington Post. He may have been Saudi born, but he stood up against the government and was not scared to cover the hard hitting truths about the problems and injustices that he saw in his country. While working for the Washington Post, it has been said that he was targeted by a Saudi royal advisor to be “trolled” and harassed online about the things he was saying. The Dissident is a movie that does a fantastic job of showing what led up to the events of the assassination.

What we have here is a murder/mystery kind of story where we have another journalist/blogger called, Omar Abdulaziz who was a friend of Jamal and like him, someone who is of Saudi descent, but speaks out about what goes on over there talking about what happened. Bryan Fogel really does not hold back here and gets right into the nitty gritty and it makes for a very captivating kind of documentary. If you enjoy many of the true crime and murder type shows that are on Netflix, you will certainly be entertained from start to end by this story.

It is the kind of story that you just cannot believe is real. That there could be a legit and real cover up of this massive scale and that governments from different parts of the world are involved. It truly is a story about how with the right amount of power and money, people can be pretty much untouchable and do whatever they want. In many ways it is like a story that would be the catalyst for the events of a James Bond or Mission Impossible movie, only this actually happened!

Is It Any Good?

The Dissident presents its “facts” to the audience and really leaves things up to the viewer in regards to what should happen next to those who were involved in this assassination. As a result, this is the kind of thing that really does stick with you for a few days after you have seen it as you process all the information in your head and try to come up with your own explanation. It makes for a very interesting documentary/movie to discuss with friends who have also seen it.

However, one thing that is truly remarkable about The Dissident is the reaction online. For the most part, those that have seen this think it is a thrilling and interesting story of an international assassination and the cover-up that followed. However, it has been said that due to interference from the Saudi royal family, the movie has been review bombed and had a bit of a smear campaign about how it is one sided and inaccurate. Some major streaming platforms were even initially hesitant to stream it due to backlash from the Saudi government/royal family! There are not many other movies or documentaries where the reaction to it is as interesting as the movie/documentary itself, but that is certainly the case here.

Movie Details

  • Genre: True crime/documentary/social justice
  • Runtime: 119 minutes
  • IMDB Rating: 7.8/10
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Released: December 25th, 2020 (limited release). January 8th, 2021 (VOD release)
  • Directed By: Bryan Fogel
  • Written By: Bryan Fogel


  • Omar Abdulaziz
  • Irfan Fidan
  • Recep Kilic
  • Wadah Khanfar
  • Resul Serdar Atas
  • John O. Brennan
  • Ayman Nour
  • Iyad El-Baghdadi
  • Hatice Cengiz
  • Shane Harris
  • Mohamed Soltan
  • David Ignatius
  • Turan Kislacki
  • Faith Oke
  • Fred Ryan
  • Yasin Aktay
  • Fahrettin Altun
  • Abdulhamit Gul