Jamal Khashoggi’s Killing is Focus of ‘Kingdom of Silence’ and ‘The Dissident’


His death horrified the world.

On Oct. 2, 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist and outspoken critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. After a cover-up, Saudi Arabia issued verdicts in a secret trial that absolved Prince Mohammed of any wrongdoing. Yet the Central Intelligence Agency and other investigators have concluded he probably ordered the killing.

Two years on, two new documentaries remind us that Turkish prosecutors — and those closest to Khashoggi — are still awaiting justice, hoping he won’t fade from memory. Covering the high-profile case of a subject who opposed the Saudi government outright brought challenges for the filmmakers, both during and after shooting.

“Kingdom of Silence,” a Showtime documentary by Rick Rowley (“16 Shots”), debuted Friday, the second anniversary of Khashoggi’s death. (In a rare move, Showtime is allowing nonsubscribers to watch it free on the platform and on YouTube.)

The film follows Khashoggi’s career, from his early days as a wide-eyed journalist in Afghanistan to his time as a spokesman for a top Saudi politician to his final years as a self-exiled Washington Post columnist.

At first, Rowley set out to craft a murder mystery. But as he dug deeper, he no longer wanted to investigate who was behind the murder — “It’s not a question,” he said — but why it took place.

“Who was this man that the kingdom would risk so much to silence?” he recalled thinking.

In the immediate aftermath of the killing, “we were all looking at the death,” said Vinnie Malhotra, the executive vice president of nonfiction programming at Showtime. “We weren’t examining the life.”

“Kingdom of Silence” and “The Dissident” amplify his story further, shedding light on lesser-known details and serving as a call to action.

“There has been no justice,” Fogel said. “So I believe that the story carries forward past Oct. 2.”



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