This riveting, multilayered documentary follows Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel, who has spent nearly 50 years advocating for the rights of Palestinian defendants.
Since the early 1970s, attorney Lea Tsemel has gained a reputation as one of the most polarizing figures in Israel due to her tireless work on the behalf of Palestinian defendants. Tsemel has dedicated her career to extending compassion to her clients in the face of what she views as a fundamentally unjust court system, and in Advocate, filmmakers Philippe Bellaiche and Rachel Leah Jones follow the indefatigable lawyer as she works on two of the most difficult cases of her career: a young woman disfigured by a failed car bombing and a 13-year-old boy charged with attempting to kill Israelis in a stabbing spree. Employing an inventive mix of live action and animation, the filmmakers interweave this compelling real-life courtroom drama with significant episodes from Tsemel’s past, from her politically-ambivalent beginnings as a young soldier, to her leftist awakening as a member of the activist group Matzpen, to the many high-profile, controversial cases that have shaped her career. Advocate doesn’t attempt to glaze over the complexities of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Tsemel’s eternal optimism in the face of dispiriting odds is truly inspirational.
In Competition: Documentary Feature Award
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