The Witness – How One Man Came to Love, Respect and Fight For Animals
The Witness is an inspiring, powerful documentary that tells the personal story of Eddie Lama, a man who grew up being afraid of animals then grew to love them, advocate for them, fight for them, and devote his life to saving them. Lama says early in the film, “A miracle is a change in perception.” For Eddie Lama, this is very personal.
The film tells the story of Eddie’s transformation from being fearful of animals for most of his young life to becoming a fierce animal right activist, animal rescuer and animal sanctuary owner. Why did he change, and how? In one day—with a kitten. This one kitten opened his heart and inspired him not only to rescue other abandoned and injured animals on the streets of Brooklyn, but to become conscious about other ways we are responsible for harming animals and what we can do about it. This moving film implores us to have compassion and care for all animals, not just some animals.
This film is dedicated to the 41 million animals whose lives are taken each year for the fur industry.
See the full movie here.
Learn More About the Fur Industry
Film Length: 43 Minutes
Originally Released: 2000
Languages: Transferred into 11 languages, including Chinese and Russian
An Interview With Eddie Lama
What You Can Do
- Share the film with family and friends. Invite them to a free online screening.
- Order the DVD, order other Tribe of Heart films, or make a contribution.
- Use Social Media to share The Witness, and encourage others to watch it, include the embed code for the trailer or share the link to the Tribe of Heart website
- Hold a Screening! Transform people’s lives by having a movie night in your own family room with friends, or hold one at your public library, community center, senior center, college classroom, high school or junior high classroom, festival etc.
Some Quotes From The Film
“Question authority. Your brain is your authority. Question your thinking.”
“The power of your example, is the biggest message you can give anyone.”
“It’s a shame to hurt an animal just for a coat.”
“Born into captivity and died in captivity, it’s extremely cruel – and the animal always suffers.”
“If anyone feels this is a horrible thing to have their own dog or cat to undergo — what about the fox and the mink? It’s no different. They all feel the same pain. It’s YOU, you don’t feel the same way about them. That’s the only difference.”
“Another thing is that they can’t express themselves. They can’t say that they don’t want to die. They just try to scream as they go to slaughter. There’s no one to advocate for the animals.”
“These animals are screaming in a vacuum, they are helpless, it’s like nothing I’ve experienced. The bewildered fear I had in me when I was attacked, I just don’t want anyone to experience what I experienced – my fear, my helplessness. Animals fear. They know they are going to get killed. They know that. To think that their cries go unheeded — 9 billion times a year. But not because of me now—and that makes a difference.”
“I saw video footage of pigs being confined in these pens on factory farms then transported to slaughter. I saw all this misery – everything from intensive confinement, they were given drugs, had their tails docked, their ears painfully clipped, their snout bashed, then they were prodded in line into these chutes to kill them. Then they didn’t die in the slaughterhouse. I couldn’t think why these animals were being punished this way. Why would we punish them like this? Because why would these pigs have to suffer THIS much?”
“I knew I was directly doing harm, and that they would choose not to be harmed, if he could speak. So I had to accept his being, so in accepting, I knew I had to stop smoking. I put out the cigarette and quit smoking. This animal had no choice, he couldn’t leave my cigarette smoke.
I made that connection. Get it – ANIMAL. Animal period. Not a cat, dog — An animal! I had just petted this cat, his entire body, then went to my brother’s house and was served chicken. And I suddenly saw there was no difference.”
“It is ugly. Slavery is ugly. The holocaust is ugly. Lynchings are ugly. If you hide the truth how will anyone know, it will just continue.” (Speaking of the suffering of animals for food and fur)
“I fell in love with a fur bearer, my cat, and I didn’t see any distinction between my little fur bearer and the one traveling through the forest. I couldn’t see my little, beautiful creature—be gassed, clubbed, stepped on, and have her skin ripped off her back for someone’s ear muffs. It was very personal.”
“Some animals need to be trapped in the wild to get their pelts. They use steel jaw traps. They stake the trap to the ground, cover it up, right where the animals travel. Then the trap snaps shut on their body, but it almost never kills them quickly. They writhe in pain for hours, sometimes for days. Then the trapper comes and clubs them to death to keep their fur intact.”
“These fur animals are killed through anal electrocution – very painful, but very effective for the fur industry, because it kills the animal without hurting the fur.”
“Fur animals are gassed – hooked up to a carbon monoxide crate (it’s crude, not scientific, and sometimes doesn’t work) – and sometimes these animals wake up as they are being skinned—alive. And they scream out.”
“The fur industry tries to misinform the public – like calling a fur farm, “a ranch.” But they are purely torture camps. These animals are born into cages, where they cannot even move around. They live in wire cages raised off the ground, so that their excrement can drop down. They live their lives on wire floors that’s very painful for their feet. To get their coat – they leave them exposed to extremely cold temperatures so their fur will grow in. They are completely exposed to the temps, which in the wild they would burrow, hide, find cover. They cannibalize each other because they are in such confinement – pacing back and forth, they go psychologically nuts, they die prematurely, they are extremely sick, there’s no veterinary care. So these animals endure these horrible conditions for months until they are killed for someone’s fur.”
“Designers have started to re-introduce fur back into the mainstream – by dying the fur, putting it on fabric as trim and cuffs. Now you have a lot of people walking around with dead animals on their clothing.”
“I just had to figure out a way to bring these images to the public, because these undercover videos weren’t going to be seen in the theaters.”
- WINNER – Best Short Film, Activist Film Festival
- WINNER – Best Documentary, New Jersey International Film Festival
- WINNER – Outstanding Breakthrough Documentary, CineWomen New York
- WINNER – Best of Festival, Crested Butte Reel Festival
- WINNER – Best Documentary Crested Butte Reel Festival
- WINNER – Audience Award Best Documentary, Brooklyn Film Festival
- WINNER – Jury Award, Best Documentary, Brooklyn Film Festival
- WINNER – “Free Thinker” Award, Steps International Rights Festival
- WINNER – Best Documentary, Canyonlands Film Festival
- WINNER – Best Documentary, Open Your Eyes! International Film Festival
Directed and Edited by: Jenny Stein
Produced by: James LaVeck
Photography by: Jason Longo
A Tribe of Heart Documentary