Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche
Part of


Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche

108 min.
Israel, Canada and Switzerland
Hebrew, Arabic and English
Subtitles: Catalan, Spanish and English

Jewish lawyer Lea Tsemel is a law earthquake in Israel. Specialized in the defence of Palestinian political prisoners.


Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche
Yuval Bar-on, Rachel Leah Jones
DocsBarcelona Distribution
Philippe Bellaiche, Rachel Leah Jones, Paul Cadieux, Maryse Rouillard, Joëlle Bertossa, Flavia Zanon
Close Up Films, Filmoption International, Home Made Docs
Robert Marcel Lepage
Film editor
Yaël Bitton
Rachel Leah Jones

Jewish lawyer Lea Tsemel is a law earthquake in Israel, specializing in the defence of Palestinian political prisoners, and she considers herself an 'optimistic angry woman'. Outspoken, she agrees to represent Palestinian defendants whether or not they have committed crimes under the revolutionary idea and strong conviction that the repression they suffer justifies their struggle to break free.

The comprehensive follow-up of the preparation for the defence of two specific cases: Ahmad, a 13-year-old boy accused of participating in the stabbing of an Israeli boy, and Israa Jaabis, accused by Israeli officials of a failed attempt of suicide attack, offers us a look into the protagonist’s unclassifiable and exceptional personality. With tireless energy, she has been trying for more than five decades to change and make public opinion aware that the Israeli government's occupation and repression of Palestinians are also to blame for this violence.

A human rights defender, she claims that the Israelis are complicit and have no right to tell Palestinians how they should fight. An indispensable story in which Lea Tsemel sends us a powerful plea and message: "You should try to understand me, because I am the future."

About the direction
Rachel Leah Jones

Rachel Leah Jones


Born in Berkeley, California in 1970 and raised between Berkeley and Tel Aviv, Jones is a critically...

Philippe Bellaiche

Philippe Bellaiche


Born in Paris, France in 1967, Bellaiche is an award-winning DP whose credits include Between Fences...

Awards and festivals

United States, 2019
Award FPRSEI · Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
Greece, 2019
Best Documentary Film · Cracòvia FF
Poland, 2019
Canada, 2019
Best Documentary Film · Moscow Jewish Film Festival
Russia, 2019
Jury Prize · Hong Kong International Film Festival
China, 2019
Best Isreali Documentary Film
Israel, 2019
Best Documentary Film · Asia Pacific Screen Awards
Australia, 2019
Best Documentary Film · Israeli Film Academy Awards
Israel, 2020
Movies That Matter Award · ZagrebDox
Croacia, 2020
Bridging the Borders Award · Palm Springs Film Festival
United States, 2020
The 2020 Unforgettables · Cinema Eye Honors Awards
United States, 2020
Official Selection · DocsBarcelona
Spain, 2020
Official Selection · CPH:DOX
Denmark, 2019
Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche
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Expertly directed by Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche, "Advocate" examines Tsemel from numerous perspectives, delving into her history, her family and the way she operates day to day.

— Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

"Advocate"... makes for potent viewing as a portrait of a steadfast activist with a controversial cause.

— Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times

This documentary portrait of Israeli human rights lawyer Lea Tsemel gets absorbingly up close and personal.

— Keith Uhlich, Hollywood Reporter
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