Briarcliff Entertainment announced today the acquisition of domestic distribution rights to The Dissident, the highly anticipated film from Bryan Fogel (Academy Award-winning director of Icarus), and today they released the film’s first trailer.
Following the film’s world premiere at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year to rave reviews, Briarcliff is planning a theatrical and VOD release in late 2020 along with other events to coincide with the second anniversary of Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination. HanWay Films will handle international sales of the film. UTA Independent Film Group orchestrated both the domestic distribution deal, and the international sales deal on behalf of the filmmaking team.
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. Featuring never before seen surveillance footage and unprecedented access to a wealth of other damning information previously unavailable to the public, Fogel earned the trust of those closest to the tragedy — Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz and the UN Special Rapporteur who led the inquiry into the assassination, Agnès Callamard, as well as Turkish police and prosecutors, cyber security experts, and a young Saudi activist with whom Khashoggi was secretly collaborating, Omar Abdulaziz — to weave together this story of courage, money, power, tyranny, love, and technology run amok.
“As we approach the second anniversary of Jamal’s death with no official repudiation, my hope is that this film will enshrine his memory as well as ensure that justice is served, and that our society no longer turns a blind eye to the brutal human rights violations committed by the Saudi regime,” says The Dissident director Bryan Fogel. “I am thrilled that the film will receive a truly independent release, detached from corporate and special interests, so that we can authentically work towards these worthy outcomes.”
“Bryan Fogel is a courageous filmmaker who consistently takes great risks against very powerful authoritarians,” says Tom Ortenberg, president of Briarcliff Entertainment. “We have a great sense of responsibility with this project and are honored to provide a platform that will continue Khashoggi’s work and highlight his sacrifices to the largest audience possible.”
“This film is a chilling illustration of what results from unchecked power,” says Thor Halvorssen, producer of The Dissident and president of the Human Rights Foundation. “The Dissident shines a powerful light on the darkness of tyranny. Dictatorships are undone by public exposure and we are committed to take this story all over the world, enlisting the partnership of the general public and civil society across the political and ideological spectrum to hold MBS and his henchmen accountable.”
“The Dissident denounces the Saudi state, but also the complicity, the silence, the apologists, and the cowards who have failed to act in the aftermath of Jamal’s execution,” says Agnès Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions. “Having worked closely with Bryan Fogel for more than a year, I witnessed firsthand his deep commitment to investigating and presenting the complete picture, to memorializing the truth and to seeking justice. And all of this while being inherently respectful to those whose stories he tells. The Dissident is an irrepressible moral plea for human rights and human dignity.”
“When Bryan shared his idea to make the film, I was initially reluctant,” says Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz. “But as we worked together, I came to realize that Bryan believed in Jamal’s cause and values. No one has told this difficult and painful story better than Bryan. I am grateful for him, for his courage, and for immortalizing Jamal with this movie. I believe it will raise awareness about Jamal’s unjust killing and remind everyone that his killers are still not punished.”
“When I decided to participate, I knew that working with an accomplished filmmaker like Bryan would not be easy, but it would be our best opportunity to tell our story to the world, to bring justice and peace to our country and to our people,” says Khashoggi’s collaborator, Omar Abdulaziz.