International Competition


Rachel Leah Jones, Phillipe Bellaïche
Screening time  
08.10. / Thursday, 21:00 - 23:00 Ticket
11.10. / Sunday, 12:00 - 14:00  

Now almost 75, Lea Tsemel has spent her entire professional life as a human rights lawyer in Israel, mostly defending Palestinians who have resisted occupation both violently and non-violently. The name her opponents gave her reflects the controversial nature of her work: they call her The Devil’s Advocate. The film follows this passionately committed lawyer over the course of two cases, one concerning a 13-year-old boy involved in a stabbing, and the other a woman who committed a failed suicide attack. We see Tsemel in conversation with the defendants, her team of lawyers and the press, with the filmmakers making clever and effective use of animation in scenes that require anonymity. There are also interviews with her husband, children and colleagues, all of whom testify to her courage, tenacity and unwavering moral sense. The film also looks back at a number of high-profile cases from her legal career, all of which, with just a single hopeful exception, were stymied by a discriminatory judicial system. Despite everything, Tsemel’s hope for changes in the system and her keen eye for the human behind every case are what keep her going.


Rachel Leah Jones

Rachel Leah Jones is a director and a producer born in Berkeley, California, and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel. She has a BA in Race, Class, & Gender Studies and an MFA in Media Arts Production. Her credits include 500 dunam on the Moon (2002), Ashkenaz (2007), Targeted Citizen (2010), and Gypsy Davy (2011). Over the years, she has worked on numerous socially and politically engaged documentaries in Israel and Palestine, and for various progressive media outlets, such as the Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem and Democracy Now! in New York. Advocate (2019) is her latest documentary.


Phillipe Bellaïche

Philippe Bellaïche is an award-winning Director of Photography born in 1967 in Paris. He specialises in documentary cinematography and his work includes over 40 films or television series made in the Middle East and across the Asia Pacific. In 2011, he collaborated with Rachel Leah Jones on Gypsy Davy as cinematographer and producer, and in 2019 they collaborated once more, on Advocate – his feature debut as a director. 

General sponsor

Lea Tsemel, Orechet Din

Switzerland, Canada, Israel
2019, 108'

Directed by:
Rachel Leah Jones, Phillipe Bellaïche

Screenplay by:
Rachel Leah Jones

Philippe Bellaiche

Tal Kantor

Edited by:
Yael Bitton

Rachel Leah Jones, Philippe Bellaïche, Joelle Bertossa, Paul Cadieux

Produced by:
Home Made Docs, FilmOption, Close Up Films, RTS – Radio Télévision Suisse, SRG SSR, Megafun

Festivals & Awards:

Palm Springs International Film Festival 2020 – GoE Bridging the Borders Award; Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival 2019 – Golden Alexander for Best Documentary, FIPRESCI Award; Hong Kong International Film Festival 2019 – Jury Prize Documentary Competition; DocAviv 2019 – Best Israeli Film; Krakow Film Festival 2019 – The Golden Horn; IDA Documentary Awards 2019 – nominated; Sundance Film Festival 2019; IDFA 2019; Hot Docs 2019; RIDM 2019; Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019; CPH:DOX 2019; DOK.fest Munich 2019; Moscow International Film Festival 2019;DocsBarcelona 2020



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