Bryan Fogel is an American film director, producer, author, playwright, speaker and human rights activist, best known for the 2017 documentary Icarus, which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 90th Academy Awards in 2018.
The New York Times described Fogel's film Icarus as "Illuminating" and Variety magazine called it as "A Game Changing Documentary." Icarus premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award "The Orwell Award" and the first ever "Audience Choice" Award of Sundance Film Festival London. The film was acquired in a historic $5 million sale by Netflix and launched globally on August 4, 2017 and won its first Feature Documentary Oscar with Icarus. The evidence brought forward in Icarus through Russian whistle-blower Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, was instrumental in the Olympic Committee's banning of Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Fogel most recently has directed and produced the 2020 American documentary film The Dissident that follows the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia's effort to control international dissent. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2020. It is scheduled to be released on December 18, 2020, by Briarcliff Entertainment.
He currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.
Early life and education
Fogel was born in Denver, Colorado. He attended the Denver Jewish Day School. He graduated from East High School and the University of Colorado Boulder.
Fogel began his career in Hollywood pursuing stand-up comedy and acting. He had a small part in the 2009 Disney movie Race to Witch Mountain.
Fogel has given keynote speeches to organizations around the world including the Oslo Freedom Forum in 2019 and 2020 - Human Rights Foundation and has appeared on ABC Nightline, Charlie Rose, Seth Meyers, Joe Rogan, CNN, ESPN, Meet The Press, The View, NPR, BBC and has been featured in publications around the globe including The Guardian  and Financial Times.
Fogel developed, co-wrote, and initially starred in the play Jewtopia, an off-Broadway comedy about the dating lives of two young men seeking Jewish women, which was made into a feature film. The play opened in Los Angeles in 2003 and ran for 300 performances. It moved on in 2004 to the off-Broadway Westside Theater in New York, where it ran for more than three years and over a thousand performances before closing in April 2007. It is one of the longest-running and fastest-recouping productions in Off-Broadway history.
Fogel co-authored the book Jewtopia: The Chosen Guide for the Chosen People, with Sam Wolfson. The book was published by Hachette Book Group and Fogel appeared on ABC's The View in support of the book.
Fogel directed, co-wrote and produced the feature film adaptation of Jewtopia which was released in 2012. The film had its U.S. premiere as the opening night gala of the 13th Newport Beach International Film Festival. The film won the audience choice award of the 2012 Malibu Film Festival.
While investigating the furtive world of illegal doping in sports, Fogel connected with renegade Russian scientist, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, a pillar of his country Russia's state-sponsored Olympic doping program. Fogel and Rodchenkov realized they held the power to reveal the major doping in sports through The New York Times on May 12, 2016. Part of Fogel's motivation was his complex view of cyclist Lance Armstrong, whom he had long suspected of doping despite avoiding detection from 500 plus tests. When it was learned that Armstrong had in fact been using performance enhancing drugs, Fogel became fascinated with how the athlete was able to carry on without the slightest suspicion for so long.
They alleged Russia had orchestrated state-sponsored fraud, conspiring to cheat the Olympics for decades, including the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where Rodchenkov, with the help of the Federal Security Service (FSB, formerly the KGB), changed steroid-tainted urine of the Russian national team to evade positive detection. This story, which Fogel had been documenting as a filmmaker for 3.5 years, working with producer Dan Cogan, is the foundation of his feature documentary film Icarus.
Icarus premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival where it won the first ever Special Jury "Orwell Award" and the first ever Audience Choice Award at Sundance Film Festival London. The film was acquired in a historic $5 million sale to Netflix and released worldwide on Netflix on August 4, 2017.
In December 2017, Russia was suspended from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea under its flag, although it did send 169 athletes under the moniker "Olympic Athletes from Russia". In August 2017, Fogel met with members of the US Congress and Senate to discuss the extent of Russian tampering in global affairs, specifically the 2016 US elections.
Icarus won Best Documentary Feature at the 90th Academy Awards.
The film was also nominated for the Best Documentary Feature at the 71st BAFTAs, and Fogel was also nominated for outstanding directorial achievement at the 70th Directors Guild of America Awards, and three 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards for writing, directing and best documentary special. Icarus also received the 2018 Edward R. Murrow Award for Outstanding Journalism.
For his work on Icarus, Fogel was asked to speak for Play the Game, a Danish-led group dedicated to raising the ethical standards of sports worldwide.
Fogel wrote and directed the documentary The Dissident (2020) along with Mark Monroe, investigating the murder of Saudi Arabian The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul allegedly at the hands of his own government. Fogel believed that after the assassination, Khashoggi's reputation was dragged through the mud as he was painted as a terrorist sympathizer. Fogel noted that, in truth, Khashoggi was an intended reformer for his nation, aspiring to promote transparency through his journalism. Fogel has asserted that he is fighting for freedom of speech and freedom of press everywhere by bringing to light the heinous crime committed against Khashoggi. While a CIA report released by the Biden administration implicated Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in the death of Khashoggi, Fogel believes the prince will never face an Interpol arrest warrant or formal investigation considering the vast amount of wealth he owns.
Scott Feinberg claimed the film would include previously-unknown audio implicating the ruling House of Saud in Khashoggi's murder.
Despite excellent reviews and winning the Aspen Shortsfest's Audience Award and the Middleburg Film Festival's Audience Award, major film studios were reluctant to pick up the film, for fear of reprisals. Eight months after its release, Briarcliff Entertainment picked up the film with intent to release it across theaters, coinciding with the second anniversary of Khashoggi's assassination. Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter wrote "Fogel's investigation is vigorous, deep and comprehensive." and Owen Gleiberman, reviewing the film in Variety, called it "an eye-opening thriller brew of corruption, cover-up, and real-world courage."
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- ^ a b Yuan, Jada. "How Icarus Director Bryan Fogel Documented the Russian Olympic Doping Scandal". Vulture. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
- ^ "The 90th Academy Awards | 2018". Oscars.org | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2021-07-22.
- ^ Oscar-winning director Bryan Fogel to address Play the Game 2019; Play The Game; 
- ^ Bryan Fogel's 'The Dissident' wins Aspen Filmfest Audience Award; Aspen Times; 
- ^ Aguilar, Carlos; How Bryan Fogel Made Jamal Khashoggi Doc 'The Dissident' a Non-Fiction Thriller; Indiewire; 
- ^ "Jamal Khashoggi: US says Saudi prince approved Khashoggi killing". BBC News. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
- ^ "The Dissident: Jamal Khashoggi documentary points finger at Saudi Arabia's crown prince". BBC News. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
- ^ Hollywood Reporter: Oscars: The Season of the Documentary
- ^ Carroll, Tobias; Acclaimed Documentary Filmmakers Face Distribution Issues For Hot-Button Subjects; Inside Hook; 
- ^ 'Minari,' 'The Dissident' win Middleburg Film Festival Audience Awards; Loudoun Times; 
- ^ Thompson, Anne; How Award-Winning Filmmakers Make Dangerous Documentaries That No Major Distributor Will Touch; IndieWire; 
- ^ Coyle, Jake; Director Bryan Fogel's documentary "The Dissident" finds distribution; Shoot Online; 
- ^ McCarthy, Todd. "'The Dissident': Film Review Sundance 2020". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
- ^ Gleiberman, Owen. "'The Dissident': Film Review". Variety Magazine. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
- ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (22 February 2020). "Powerful new Khashoggi film hits its mark … but will audiences get to see it?". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 2020-02-22 – via www.theguardian.com.
- ^ Zeitchik, Steven (23 January 2020). "A Jamal Khashoggi documentary could take the film world — and U.S.-Saudi relations — by storm". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-02-22.