2020 Cinema Eye Honors Weekend | January 4-6, 2020

Advocate

Directed by Rachel Leah Jones and Phillippe Bellaïche Produced by Phillippe Bellaïce, Rachel Leah Jones, Paul Cadieux and Joëlle Bertossa

Israeli human-rights lawyer Lea Tsemel is a force that won’t be deterred. Having defended Palestinians against a host of criminal charges in Israeli courts for nearly five decades, she is a staunch supporter of compassion within the court system. Frequently subjected to harsh criticism in the press and in the public view, Tsemel remains optimistically steadfast in her belief that justice can be served. In this impressive documentary, Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche masterfully juxtapose two of Tsemel’s cases, one professional and the other personal: the defense of a minor accused of attempted murder and a past case in which she defended her activist husband from an accusation of treason against the state. Delicately animated sequences conceal defendants’ identities as Tsemel frankly addresses their best possible chances for acquittal, while interviews with Tsemel’s adult children reveal her unique ability to see the humanity of those accused. Advocate is an original, provocative film that both exposes the human fallout of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and provides hope for a peaceful resolution. (Sundance Film Festival)