The Accidental Advocate

Film phase:Completed


When Claude Gerstle, a surgeon and athlete, suffers a tragic bicycle accident that leaves him paralyzed from the neck down, he and his daughter, Jessica Gerstle, track down scientists, ethicists, religious authorities, and politicians to understand the promise of stem cell research and why a political quagmire is stalling a cure. At the same time they embark on an emotional journey that celebrates the importance of family ties.


Jessica Gerstle covered breaking news stories for NBC News and produced hour-long specials for Dateline NBC for 12 years before leaving to independently produce her first film, The Accidental Advocate. Her investigative hour, “Justice for Shannon,” uncovered corruption in the sex crimes unit of the Philadelphia Police Department. She won an Emmy for her segment “An Ounce of Prevention,” about violence prevention programs for adolescents in the wake of the school shootings in Kentucky and Colorado. Gerstle earned her Bachelor’s degree in History from Barnard College.