Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival

Programme (2020)

Advocate (2020)

Lea Tsemel is a Jewish-Israeli lawyer who has been defending Palestinian political prisoners for nearly 50 years. Her tireless quest for justice pushes the praxis of a human rights defender to its limits.

In Advocate, filmmakers Philippe Bellaiche and Rachel Leah Jones deconstruct this controversial figure who will defend anyone who opposes what she describes as an illegal occupation of Palestine. Tsemel is by her own words “non-discriminating” about who she represents: her goal is fair representation within a court system that she believes is rigged against Palestinian prisoners, and she reserves judgment even of those guilty of terrible crimes. But her perspective goes beyond criminal justice – as the film outlines, Tsemel has been committed to left-wing advocacy all her life. Tsemel insists that Israeli law is fundamentally flawed when it comes to Palestinian criminals, on the basis that an occupier has no right to tell the occupied how they should resist.

Advocate follows Tsemel as she takes on two new cases, and illustrates her decades-long clash with the Israeli establishment. “To many, Tsemel is a hero, a fearless and tireless warrior for justice. To others, she is ‘the devil’s advocate.’ To everyone who knows or has heard of her, regardless of their political views, she is larger than life”.

As a Jewish-Israeli woman who has represented political prisoners for nearly 50 years on behalf of the far-left Tsemel pushes the definition of a human rights defender to its limits.

Film Movement

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Film Title : Advocate
Language : heprea, arabia
Director : Philippe Bellaiche, Rachel Leah Jones
Year : 2019
Length : 109
Age limit : K12
Format : DCP
Cinematographer : Philippe Bellaiche
Editing : Yael Bitton
Producer : Rachel Leah Jones, Philippe Bellaiche, Paul Cadieux, Joelle Bertossa
Production Company : Home Made Docs

Screenings :
Tue 28.1. at 19.30, Bio Rex, followed by a Q&A with director Rachel Leah Jones and protagonist Lea Tsemel
Fri 31.1. at 20.45, Kinopalatsi 7, followed by a Q&A with directors Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche
Sun 2.2. at 16.00, Kinopalatsi 1