From Kingdom of Silence (2020), dir. Rick Rowley (image courtesy Obscured Pictures)

Marking the second anniversary of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and assassination, Showtime has released a new documentary about the Saudi journalist’s life and death. Kingdom of Silence is about more than one man, though. With Khashoggi’s career as its focal point, the film scrutinizes the past few decades of the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia, and the geopolitical atrocities it has produced.

The death of a colleague seems to have shocked the mainstream journalistic establishment into finally addressing Saudi Arabia’s myriad human rights violations with fewer mealy-mouthed equivocations. That this is the first of two films about Khashoggi coming out this year is a testament to that. It’s surprising in some ways to see a Showtime film directly cover usually verboten topics like the US arming future terrorists during the Soviet-Afghan War or the Saudi funding of 9/11. Even so, it’s stifled by the fact that many of the “experts” on the subject, such as former diplomat David Rundell, stand by the party line that US support of Saudi Arabia is necessary for “stability” in the region, whatever the fuck that means.

Kingdom of Silence is available to stream via Showtime.

Dan Schindel is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Brooklyn, and a former associate editor at Hyperallergic. His portfolio and links are here.