Project Description

Cover for the documentary The Witness. Features a closeup of a man's face, a truck, and an animal.

The Witness

2000 · Unrated · 43m

Synopsis

How does a construction contractor from a tough Brooklyn neighborhood become an impassioned animal advocate?

In the award-winning documentary The Witness, Eddie Lama explains how he feared and avoided animals for most of his life, until the love of a kitten opened his heart, inspiring him to rescue abandoned animals and bring his message of compassion to the streets of New York. With humor and sincerity, Eddie tells the story of his remarkable change in consciousness.

About the Actor

Working hard to overcome the many challenges of growing up in a poor and violent Brooklyn neighborhood, Eddie Lama developed a deep sense of identification with the vulnerable and voiceless beings of our world. In one of the most moving sections of The Witness, he describes the harrowing experience of being beaten and left for dead, crying out for help and no one responding. Eddie then shares how this trauma helped him understand the plight of animals, who so often endure violence with no one to even witness their tragic fate, much less advocate on their behalf.

In 2001, the Peace Abbey gave Eddie their Courage of Conscience Award. Upon accepting it, he said, In my lifetime I have been both the oppressor and the oppressed, both the fomenter of discord and the advocate for peace, both the perpetrator and the victim. But most significantly, I have been both the silence and the voice. It is the human voice that is the primary tool for change.

Eddie s willingness to so openly share both the dark and the light of his own life has inspired many who have seen The Witness to follow his example, making a conscious decision to do all they can not to participate in the exploitation of others, be they two-legged or four-legged.

Today, Eddie continues to rescue and provide homes for unwanted and abandoned animals, while also operating a non-profit organization, FaunaVision, which focuses on his unique approach to mobile, street-level video education.

About the Filmmakers

The Witness was produced by James LaVeck and directed by Jenny Stein. 

Jenny Stein, a graduate of UCLA’s Independent Film and Television Producers Program, is Co-Founder with James LaVeck of Tribe of Heart, a charitable non-profit organization that uses the art of storytelling and documentary to present a vision of a compassionate future. The Witness is Ms. Stein’s award-winning directorial debut.

The Witness has been an official selection in 32 film festivals where it has received eight awards for Best Documentary and two for Best of Festival. It has been broadcast on the independent film showcases of several regional PBS stations, as well as LinkTV, FreeSpeech TV, and United Kingdom’s Community Channel. Thus far, the film has been translated into 11 languages, including Russian and Chinese.

Find out more about the film at witnessfilm.org.

Reviews

The Witness is about changing your life, taking a stand for those who can’t and being true to what is right… It’s a call to all of us to do something, to make a difference.” – Alicia Silverstone, Actress

The Witness is one man’s truth that cries out for mass exposure… may be the most important and persuasive film about animals ever made.” — Howard Rosenberg, Los Angeles Times

The Witness packs all the dramatic punch of an epic Hollywood feature… Deceptively simple, the film works on many levels, providing such easy and deep access to ‘animal consciousness’ that it ranks among the most effective cinematic tools for social change to date.” — Satya Magazine

The Witness is one of the most moving documentaries I’ve ever seen.” — William Baldwin, Actor

“The strength of the force to banish this provocative film is the very reason we chose to broadcast it.” — Toni Whiteman, Producer, Link TV

The Witness is a life changing film, and I know some of the footage is not pleasant, but that is what wakes people up. Because of Tribe of Heart films, my life changed in one evening, and now I am a voice for those who don’t have one. The Witness is hosted by Eddie Lamma who takes you on a journey through the film, and he is with you the whole time, and shares his story of transformation, from a meat eating, and chain smoking background who also grew up in the Bronx, babysits a cat for a girl who he hoped to get a date with, but ended up having his heart touched by the cat, and saw that the cat was a living being with feelings. You can also meet Eddie at his sanctuary called Oasis Sanctuary. Eddie shows you how he is working towards exposing the fur industry, educating the public on where fur products come from and how the animals are treated. Most people have no idea how animals are really treated because these cruel practices are kept away from public view. I urge everyone to buy this film now! People like Eddie are also facing a bill called the “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act”, which prevents people from boycotting and protesting against animal cruelty! So say NO to this bill and buy The Witness. This film also includes the hit song “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan from the album “Surfacing”.” – Devin Listrom, Amazon

“One of the most disturbing, but best films I’ve ever seen. A person would have to be emotionally stunted not to feel something watching this movie. If I had the money, I’d buy a copy of it for every person in this country. It would definitely change the way a lot of things are done in this country. It’s definitely hard to watch. It was played in one of my classes and several people had to leave the room because they couldn’t watch it. The scene where he was driving through the city in his van with the video playing, that’s what really got me. I don’t cry very often, and definitely not in public, but that just about had me bawling. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room when the video ended (even among the ‘tough’ guys). It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, at times it’s truly painful, but it’s worth seeing.” – PJ, Amazon

Buy or Watch Online

Cover for the documentary The Witness. Features a closeup of a man's face, a truck, and an animal.

The Witness is available exclusively through The Global Tribal Cinema for free online viewing in five different languages: English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. 

Related: Read the full announcement from Tribe of Heart regarding The Global Tribal Cinema here.

To watch the full movie The Witness online by clicking here.