Showtime’s documentary Kingdom of Silence examines the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia as a backdrop to the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The film premieres on October 2, the two-year anniversary of Khashoggi’s death.
Kingdom of Silence examines U.S.-Saudi Arabia history in the decades leading up to today’s troubling interactions between the Trump administration and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The film shines a new light on Khashoggi’s remarkable journey – from the battlefields of Afghanistan to the halls of power in Riyadh and Washington, from the Arab Spring to the rise of Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and EP Lawrence Wright expounded on how the film will carry on Khashoggi’s legacy and confronts the dour reality of obtaining justice.
“The killing of Jamal was an attempt to crush [hope]. By bringing his voice back, it inspires people to try to carry on his legacy,” Wright said during a virtual Showtime panel. “At the end of his life, Jamal was going around the world talking to the diaspora from the Arab Spring. He was trying to rally those people who had such courage to stand in their streets and demand liberty… that caused him to be assassinated by the powers that be in Saudi Arabia. We hope to raise his banner. But the idea that there will be justice for Jamal, I think is probably not one that we can expect. But the idea is that we can shine a light on who he was and and remind young people especially that there is reason for hope. You have the right to speak. You have the right to demonstrate. You have the right to try to seek a fulfilled life. Those are the things that Jamal was advocating for.“
Also joining the panel was Mohamed Soltan, Egyptian-American human rights advocate and founder of the Freedom Initiative. Soltan himself has been punished for his political advocacy regarding the Arab Spring. He was arrested and tortured with three other journalists for his involvement in the 2013 Egypt demonstrations.
Soltan said these crimes in the Middle East are not isolated and invade all facets of life around the globe. Solatan said he hopes, with this timely film, that these types of heinous acts are never repeated again.
“It does not happen in a vacuum. It continues to happen all over the Arab world with dissidents outside, even on U.S. soil. It’s important to to deter these regimes from doing what they did to Jamal and the others… This movie sheds light on the man that ordered Jamal’s murder and how it ruthless he is. He’s not this reformer that everybody thought he was,” said Soltan.
The Freedom Initiative founder continued to explain that Kingdom of Silence will prevent the Saudi Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman from further whitewashing his reputation to Hollywood and the rest of the world.
Kingdom of Silence is produced by Samuel Black and Trevor Davidoski at Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions. Gibney, Wright, Stacey Offman and Richard Perello serve as executive producers.