In this new Clubhouse Conversations series episode, interviewer Buddy Squires, ASC speaks with writer-director Bryan Fogel and cinematographer Jake Swantko about making their harrowing documentary The Dissident — in theaters and available on demand starting on Jan. 8.
The film is a real-life exposé on the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Oct. 2, 2018 by Saudi agents in Istanbul.
Swantko previously worked with Fogel on Icarus (which earned Fogel and producer Dan Cogan the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2018).
Regarding the visual style they sought for The Dissident, Fogel told American Cinematographer, “What Paul Greengrass did in the Bourne movies was a real inspiration for us. They feel so real, with huge vérité elements.”
The result is a film that goes beyond simply documenting facts, to eliciting a strong emotional tension that keeps the viewer riveted throughout, as the documentarians provide compelling testimony that Khashoggi was murdered at the express orders of Mohammed bin Salman (aka “MBS”), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Khashoggi’s body was cut up with bone-saws and then allegedly burned in an oven in the residence of the Saudi consul general in Istanbul.
Squires is an Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning cinematographer whose many non-fiction credits include Jazz, The War, Baseball, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History and The Vietnam War, all made in collaboration with documentarian Ken Burns.
You’ll find more episodes in this discussion series at ascmag.com/videos/clubhouse-conversations