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Lea Tsemel defends Palestinians: from feminists to fundamentalists, from non-violent demonstrators to armed militants. As a Jewish-Israeli lawyer who has represented political prisoners for five decades, Tsemel, in her tireless quest for justice, pushes the praxis of a human rights defender to its limits. As far as most Israelis are concerned, she defends the indefensible. As far as Palestinians are concerned, she's more than an attorney, she’s an advocate.

University of California, Santa Barbara | Lisa Hajjar, Professor of Sociology
"Israeli attorney Lea Tsemel is a living legend for her tireless work and fierce dedication to defending Palestinians in Israeli military courts. Advocate brilliantly captures her passion for justice and her motivation to keep fighting against the greatest of odds."

University of California, Santa Barbara | Sherene Seikaly, Associate Professor of History
“Advocate is a powerful documentary that tracks one remarkable lawyer’s battle against the impossibility of Palestinian justice in Israel courts. In its attention to the details and the arc of Lea Tsemel’s life and labor, it sheds piercing light on the present condition of an ever expanding injustice.”

“A textured nonfiction character study of complicated heroism.”

LA Times
"Intimate, powerful...Expertly directed."

The New Yorker

Filmmaker Magazine
"With their Sundance-premiering Advocate they’ve created an in-the-trenches portrait of this unapologetic firebrand... A remarkable character. A warrior for justice who’s spent her entire adult life taking punch after punch, she forever gets up undaunted to fight another day."

Sight & Sound Magazine
"Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe BellaÏche’s riveting new documentary pays tribute to the tenacity and selflessness of Jewish Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel, a divisive figure in her home country on account of her unwavering dedication to Palestinian rights... A deeply bittersweet portrait of a magnetic individual."

The Hollywood Reporter
"Absorbingly up close and personal...Compelling."

The Document
"It’s what we need right now, an engaging way to crack open our thinking about something many of us are sure we already know. A fantastic main character you have to love. A riveting story that will make you mad and give you hope that there are people fighting the good fight. Great filmmaking."

Point of View Magazine
"A heroic portrait of an Israeli lawyer who defends violent Palestinian offenders, Advocate is a lively exercise in documentary advocacy. This self-described “angry and optimistic woman,” is a natural cinema verité performer, full of flashing energy, quick sardonic retorts and unselfconscious in her moral convictions."

Film Threat
"Lea Tsemel is a real, flesh-and-blood person, but if you saw someone like her in a fictional film, you might fault the screenwriter for inventing such an implausible character. Advocate is not just a celebration but a continuation of the work she’s dedicated herself to."

"Thrilling and Exact."

The New York Times
"Makes for potent viewing as a portrait of a steadfast activist with a controversial cause."

Modern Times Review
"Inspirational and full of heart... Captures the humanity and pain that lays behind aggression and labels, building an insightful picture of a flawed judicial system."

"A portrayal of a strong female figure who defies each and every convention."


Main credits

Tsemel, Leah (on-screen participant)
Jones, Rachel Leah (film director)
Jones, Rachel Leah (film producer)
Jones, Rachel Leah (screenwriter)
Bellaiche, Philippe (film director)
Bellaiche, Philippe (film producer)
Bellaiche, Philippe (director of photography)
Cadieux, Paul (film producer)
Bertossa, Joëlle (film producer)

Other credits

Cinematographer, Philippe Bellaïche; editor, Yael Bitton; producers, Maryse Rouillard (Filmoption International), Flavia Zanon (Close Up Films).

Docuseek subjects

Distributor subjects

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Middle East Studies
Law + Civil Rights
Women's Studies
Human Rights
Israel / Palestine
Middle Eastern History
Civil Law
Civil Rights
Human Rights Law
Citizenship. Social Movements and Activism
Documentary Films


Israel, Palestine, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Middle East Studies, Law + Civil Rights, Women's Studies, Human Rights, Justice; "Advocate"; GOOD DOCS