The biography of the late Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has returned to the forefront of the online debate in the Arab world again, due to the movie (The Dissident), which tells the details of his murder inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul more than two years ago.
In recent days, the film was shown on electronic platforms, which coincided with press reports during which its makers spoke about what they described as a “systematic campaign against the film.”
The film was shown in cinemas early last month, which was accompanied by the admiration of a number of critics and politicians in the United States in addition to receiving positive reviews on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes to evaluate the artwork.
But in recent days, ratings site Rotten Tomatoes have plummeted, from 95 percent to 68 percent.
The same process was repeated on IMDb.
The “sudden increase” of negative comments for the film prompted the industry to suspect a process of “manipulation” in its assessment.
The filmmakers said in a statement to the Washington Post that “their work faced, since the beginning of the week, a campaign led by” Saudi electronic arms “to weaken its viewing opportunities among Western audiences.
A spokesman for “Rotten Tomatoes”, Tyson Reynolds, said that “there are deliberate attempts to manipulate the audience’s evaluation of the film, as shown by analytical research,” adding that the site “will remove the fake ratings.”
The defector is a documentary film directed by American Brian Vogel, who won an Academy Award for his first documentary, “Icarus”.
The “dissident” is based on live interviews with Agnes Callamard, the United Nations representative for extrajudicial executions, Jamal’s Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, and the Canadian-based Saudi opposition activist Omar Abdulaziz, in addition to the findings of Turkish investigators.
The film also sheds light on governments and companies that continue to work with Saudi Arabia despite criticism of its human rights record.
In the past, news circulated that Netflix and Amazon were reluctant to buy or distribute the movie “The Maverick”, due to pressure from Saudi Arabia.
Evidence of success or failure?
The talk about a campaign against the “dissident” sparked mixed reactions on Twitter. He also renewed the controversy over the film’s content and the future of Saudi-American relations under the administration of the new president, Joe Biden.
Fans of the movie and defenders of its thesis believe that the electronic campaign directed against it has proven “the truth of the electronic flies supported by the Saudi government” and revealed “his confusion and his fears of clarifying the truth,” according to their saying.
Activists called for an end to what they called lobbyists of Saudi pressure on global broadcasting platforms.
Some of them called Biden to fulfill his previous pledges to lift the secrecy of the investigations concluded by the intelligence service into Khashoggi’s killing, saying that “delay in revealing them will only lead to the belief that the US government is covering up the truth.”
On the contrary, others questioned the filmmakers ’statements as an advertising plan to promote the film.
Some Arab singers also described the movie as biased and politicized, and accused the new American administration of “blackmailing the kingdom.”
And one of them wrote, “A fabricated noise, this film is a tendentious one that tells the story from one side. Its aim is to discredit the crown prince.”
With Joe Biden arriving at the White House, speculation abounded about the future of Saudi-American relations.
Over the course of his election campaign, Biden harshly criticized the policy of his predecessor, Donald Trump, for dealing with bin Salman and ignoring the human rights issue.
According to information obtained by the United States from Turkish intelligence, the CIA concluded that the operation was carried out “by order” of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.
But the Saudi authorities denied any responsibility for the crown prince and for ordering the killing of the dissident Khashoggi.
Observers expect that the relations between the two countries will witness a cooling off in the coming days, while others believe that the interests of countries are not measured by what is declared in the election campaigns, especially since the relations between Washington and Riyadh are old and strategic and are linked to the stability of the Gulf region.