2019 | Documentary | 108 minutes | Hebrew, Arabic with English subtitles
Advocate is a film about Israeli human-rights lawyer Lea Tsemel as she tirelessly navigates through Israel’s judicial system defending Palestinian prisoners she feels are innocent and guilty prisoners facing far too excessive prison sentences.The film also shows the impact this indefatigable worker has on her family, her husband Michel and her daughter and son. Tsemel’s main thrust is that Israel’s judicial system is unfairly stacked against Palestinians. For doing her job, Tsemel is denounced as a traitor and an evil defender of Israel’s enemies. For these reasons the film was initially banned by many theaters in Israel. Tsemel didn’t win most of her cases, but she did say in an exasperating moment that “For us, a victory can often be one year deducted from a five-year sentence.”
Major Participants
Lea Tsemel / Michel Warschawski (Lea’s husband) / Tareq Barghout (Lea’s Palestinian co-counsel) / Ahmad (13-year old Palestinian accused of murder)
Why Stream This Film?
Advocate was initially banned in many parts of Israel and denounced by the hard right. The Association of Civil Rights in Israel fought to have this film shown throughout the country, winning most of their cases. They stated that “the activities of cultural institutions and artists constantly under the watchful eye of government authorities and subject to supervision and monitoring in order to adapt their content to government tastes—harms the foundation of freedom of expression.” The producers hope that after people from around the world see this film, they can reach their own conclusions. Right on! 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
  • Metacritic Score: 77
  • Academy Awards: Shortlisted, Best Documentary Film
  • Hong Kong International Film Festival: Winner, Best Documentary
  • UK Jewish Film Festival: Winner, Best Documentary
  • Palm Springs International Film Festival: Bridging the Borders Award

Now streaming on:

This portrait of Israeli human rights lawyer Lea Tsemel gets absorbingly up close and personal. ADVOCATE, though, isn’t interested in litigating the apparently limitless divisions between Israel and Palestine so much as it is in portraying Tsemel’s tireless routine, in the process demonstrating how one lives morally and ethically within a morass.
Keith Uhlich

The Hollywood Reporter

Lea Tsemel has ben called a rebel with a lost cause and a whole lot worse. But as the intimate, powerful ADVOCATE demonstrates, she lives up to the film’s title in the purest sense of the word: She stands up for people. It’s who she stands up for that causes all the controversy.
Kenneth Turan

Los Angeles Times

ADVOCATE is a compelling, political measured portrait of fearless Israeli human rights lawyer Lea Tsemel. At best, Tsemel’s job is thankless: a stone in the shoe of the judicial system, pushing for fair treatment of her oft-demonized clients. At worst, she is vilified by her fellow Israelis.
Guy Lodge


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