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The Witness: A Tribe of Heart Documentary


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Product Details

  • Directors: Jenny Stein
  • Producers: James LaVeck
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Tribe of Heart
  • DVD Release Date: February 28, 2004
  • Run Time: 43 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00024ONDE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,738 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

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 Director

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.

Jenny shoots, edits and scores Tribe of Heart films, striving to merge the up-front authenticity of documentary with the fluid emotional dynamics usually found in dramatic films. More than her filmmaking classes at Cornell or her graduate education at UCLA's film school, she credits her childhood musical training and her alternative school education with influencing how and why she chooses to expresses herself through documentary filmmaking.

She says: At heart, I m a choreographer who finds music and motion in everything--the spoken word, the moving image, even the flow of ideas. My goal as an artist is not to get people to think what I think, but to see what I see, to feel what I feel when I look out into the world. I hope to inspire people to undertake their own quest for truth and self-knowledge, and most important, to think for themselves.

Documentaries by Jenny Stein and her filmmaking partner James LaVeck have appeared in 77 festivals around the world, where they have won 18 awards, including 4 for Best of Festival and 13 for Best Documentary. Their work has also appeared on PBS, LinkTV FreeSpeech TV, and the United Kingdom's Community Channel.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
88%
4 star
0%
3 star
0%
2 star
6%
1 star
6%
See all 17 customer reviews
It would definitely change the way a lot of things are done in this country.
PJ
A compelling and novel film, crafted with sensitivity, revealing through the transformation of an American working man unacceptable cruelty to animals.
Hilary
Eddie Lama also founded Oasis, a sanctuary for unwanted and abandoned animals, that also is a shelter for homeless people.
Tammy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Zoe Hardy on October 25, 2005
Format: DVD
There are other reviews of this film on the VHS version's page. They are not on the DVD version's page, for some reason. If you want to read those reviews, you can look up the VHS version of The Witness here on Amazon and read them.

Anyway, the film is about how a former self-centered "tough guy" from a violent Brooklyn neighborhood straightened out his life and began dedicating his life to helping people, and, later, animals as well.

This remarkable film, ostensibly about animals, is really about transcendence, redemption, and, at it's core, the discovery and understanding of love, as well as how one person can make a difference... please buy it and show it to everyone you can.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Tammy on February 28, 2006
Format: DVD
Eddie Lama, the subject of this documentary, is a middle-aged concrete and aluminum contractor who grew up on the tough streets of Brooklyn. As a child he never had a pet; his parents taught him that animals are dirty. His attitudes changed when he reluctantly agreed to take care of a pretty woman's kitten, hoping to get a date. His heart went out to the animal and nothing in his life would ever be the same again. Eddie began to rescue cats from the street. Mo Mo, one of these, compelled him to give up a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit when he noticed how small the animals' lungs must be and how it couldn't escape his secondhand smoke.

But it was the viewing of several undercover films about the trapping and cruel treatment of animals in the fur industry that convinced Eddie to begin a crusade to educate the public about this travesty. He equipped a van with a television monitor and drove through the streets of New York while playing videos of animals in traps and being caged and killed in fur farms. The pictures of pedestrians reacting to the torture and torment of animals are quite moving. Eddie Lama also founded Oasis, a sanctuary for unwanted and abandoned animals, that also is a shelter for homeless people.

Let The Witness from filmmakers James LaVeck and Jenny Stein open your heart. It is easily the most touching and best film I have every seen.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Chris Anderlik on November 1, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
The first time through you are impressed with the uniqueness of this video. The second time the emotional thrust takes you over completely. The first hand testimony of a hardened, near criminal human being transformed by his association with a nonhuman animal and the tracing of a life turned around completely is at the same time heart rending and exciting.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
This documentary is the story of the intellectual and emotional processes that Eddie Lama went through as he learned to love animals and to recognize their attributes and man's responsibilities to them. While there are moments of animal suffering shown in the film, the vast majority of it focuses on Lama's words, thoughts, and philosophy about the relationship between humans and animals.
..."
At the very least, this documentary got me thinking again about what is an old subject to me. Lama manages to express his views in a way I'd never really considered before. For all the love and commitment I feel towards animals, I just hadn't quite put it together the way he does. ...This is a must-see video for everyone who loves animals, is indifferent towards animals, wears fur, or has a pet. Frankly, it's a must see for every human.-Lucy Watkins
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Alicia Baker on November 22, 2005
Format: DVD
Artist Peter Max says, "A short film with a big heart"

LOS ANGELES TIMES heralds "unique, indelible 43-minute documentary"

The Witness tells the inspiring and life-affirming story of Eddie Lama, a tough construction contractor from Brooklyn whose life went from one of despair and hopelessness to one of compassion and service after a chance encounter with a kitten. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of the Los Angeles Times, Howard Rosenberg, said: "The Witness is one man's truth that cries out for mass exposure," which accounts for its extraordinary support from everyday people who have thus far held more than 150 community screenings in 42 states, in venues ranging from libraries and churches to college campuses and movie theatres, often with theatre owners donating the space for the events.

Lama is a 2001 recipient of the Peace Abbey's Courage of Conscience Award. Past honorees have included Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. Peace Abbey award presenter Mary Margaret Earl stated, "Eddie is a living miracle. A regular guy from Brooklyn -- who works construction and [babysat] his first cat to get a date -- has become a hero for the two-footed as well as the four-footed. He is inspiring others to follow their own conscience and change the world too."

Lama's remarkable change in consciousness is the basis of the film's ability to touch people of all ages and backgrounds. "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," said Lama, as he accepted the Courage of Conscience Award. "But most significantly, I have been both the silence and the voice. It is the human voice that is the primary tool for change.
Read more ›
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dolf M / @dolfer on July 11, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
An incredible and compelling movie. The Witness is never preachy, it just tells a great story about a very interesting man ("Eddie Lama") and the transformation he undergoes.
We watch a man who at best was apathetic towards animals, become a voice and an advocate for them. Eddie even quit smoking when he realized the damage it was doing to his pet.
There are some *very* intense scenes relating to the fur industry in this movie. You will shed tears. You will be upset. And you should...
If you are able to buy a fur coat (or any fur-containing product) after watching this movie, you may not be human...
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