Lea Tsemel defends Palestinians: from feminists to fundamentalists, from nonviolent 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 ally.
ADVOCATE follows Tsemel’s caseload in real time, including the high-profile trial of a 13-year-old boy-her youngest client to date-while also revisiting her landmark cases and reflecting on the political significance of her work and the personal price one pays for taking the role of “devil’s advocate.” Directing duo Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche assume the privileged position of a fly on the wall of Tsemel’s practice, where a year of documenting is like gathering a lifetime of evidence. This evidence attests to the wrongs of occupation but also to the faults of those who try to resist it, the failings of those who try to defend them, and the fundamental flaws of a legal system that purports to serve justice but in fact serves the powers that be.