EXCLUSIVE: One of the hottest and most anticipated films of Sundance 2020 is attracting some very big names. Hillary Clinton is likely to be among the luminaries at today’s world premiere of The Dissident, I hear.
Whether the former Secretary of State speaks at the screening, Clinton’s presence alone is sure to add weight to the Bryan Fogel-directed documentary about Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s 2018 murder in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul embassy. Alec Baldwin is also expected to be at the screening this afternoon at the MARC Theatre, along with Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz.
In Park City this weekend to promote her Hulu docuseries, Clinton has repeatedly condemned Donald Trump over the past year for his role in what she has termed the “cover-up” of the death of the outspoken Khashoggi, which evidence from the CIA and others indicates was at the behest of the kingdom’s string-pulling crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman. “And we have a president and those closest to him who have their own personal commercial interests,” the 2016 Presidential candidate told a Toronto audience in November.
The powerful MBS has denied he ordered Khashoggi’s killing, but has taken responsibility for the murder “under my watch,” as he told PBS last year. In seemingly wanting to wash the bloodstains off the Saudis’ hands, five senior government officials were sentenced to death on December 23 for their role in the premeditated execution of the posthumous Time magazine Person of the Year. Besides mild words of rebuke, the White House has taken no action against Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s murder.
Set for seven screenings before Sandance 2020 ends on February 2, the Fogel-, Jake Swantko-, Mark Monroe- and Thor Halvorssen-produced The Dissident is being sold by UTA here. No stranger to controversy, Fogel earned an Academy Award and a Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for his film Icarus in 2017. Becoming an international cause célèbre, the Netflix documentary focused on the widespread illegal doping prevalent in state-sanctioned Russian athletics.
Hulu’s four-part Hillary docuseries from director Nanette Burstein is set to screen in full with its own Sundance debut Saturday.