2020 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE DISSIDENT

THE DISSIDENT | Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Jamal Khashoggi

Bryan Fogel investigates the shocking murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Festival Section:
Documentary Premieres

Sundance Program Description:

Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was critical of his beloved Saudi Arabia and of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s policies. On October 2, 2018, Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul and never came out. His fiancée and dissidents around the world are left to piece together clues to his brutal murder – and in their dogged quest for truth, they expose a global cover-up perpetrated by the very country he loved.

With exclusive access to the Turkish government’s evidence; to Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz; and to Khashoggi’s close friend and fellow Saudi insurgent, Omar Abdulaziz, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Bryan Fogel unearths hidden secrets in this real-life international thriller that will continue to rock the world long after the headlines have faded away.

Chillingly powerful and heartbreakingly candid, THE DISSIDENT is an intimate portrait of a man who sacrificed everything for freedom of speech. With this cogent film, Fogel joins a cadre of dreamers across the globe who refuse to squelch the life’s work of an intrepid rebel, who, even after death, is defying those who sought to silence him forever.

Some Background:


  • Bryan Fogel
    Past Sundance docs:


    Fogel returns to the festival with his sophomore documentary feature, following his Sundance special jury prize- and Oscar-winning nonfiction debut, ICARUS.


  • Jake Swantko
    Past Sundance docs:


    Swantko also serves as the film’s cinematographer.

  • Thor Halvorssen

    Halvorssen is a human rights advocate, film producer, and the founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, the Human Rights Foundation, and the Moving Picture Institute.


Associate Producers:

  • Asligul Armagan

    Armagan is a Turkish filmmaker and screenwriter based in Los Angeles with a background in film and television development. This is her first Sundance project.

  • Ibrahim El-Helw

    El-Helw is a French-Egyptian actor based in Hollywood. This is also his first Sundance credit.

  • Amina Nada

    Nada is an Egyptian producer based in Los Angeles, making her Sundance debut with this project.

  • Dilara Şenbilgin

    Şenbilgin is a Turkish filmmaker based in Los Angeles, also making her Sundance debut.

Executive Producers:

  • David Fialkow
    Past Sundance docs:

    CITY OF GHOSTS (2017)
    BENDING THE ARC (2017)

    David Fialkow is a philanthropist and co-founder/managing director of venture capital firm General Catalyst.

  • Jim Swartz
    Recent past Sundance docs:


    The technology venture capitalist is a founding member of Impact Partners and longtime Park City resident. Together with his wife, Susan, he also executive produced fellow 2020 Sundance titles <a href="” target=”_blank”>US KIDS in the US Documentary Competition and THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.


  • James Leche
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE DEVIL WE KNOW (2018)
    HOLY HELL (2016)
    UNDER THE GUN (2016)

  • Wyatt Rogowski

    This is Rogowski’s first Sundance credit.

  • Avner Shiloah

    Shiloah also makes his Sundance debut with this project.

  • Scott Hanson

    Hanson also edited fellow 2020 Sundance title MCMILLION$ in Special Events. He previously edited Sundance alumni fiction feature DON’T LET GO (fka RELIVE).

  • John Stobaugh
    Past Sundance docs:


Additional Editors:

  • Lauren Brinkman and Crystal Pastis

    This marks the first Sundance project for both Brinkman and Pastis.

Why You Should Watch:
Following in the footsteps of his acclaimed first documentary, Fogel crafts a captivating and timely investigative thriller digging deeply into the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi – a vital project sure to capture the attention of audiences, critics, and industry.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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