International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo
34th World Vegetarian Congress 2000
Toronto, Canada

Reports originally from by Tiffany Refior
July 17, 2000

The Witness

I was present at the largest public screening of The Witness to date, which took place in a packed conference room at the 34th World Vegetarian Congress in Toronto, followed by a question and answer session with producer James LaVeck and director Jenny Stein.

This award-winning documentary focuses on Eddie Lama, a construction contractor from a tough neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, who makes major changes in his diet and lifestyle after a kitten opens his heart.

Even as he describes growing up with contempt for animals, Eddie is sympathetic and likable. I could hardly stop laughing as Eddie revealed his motivations for taking in the kitten who would ultimately change his entire perspective. Later, when Eddie brought his message of compassion to the streets of New York City, I found myself on the verge of tears.

Exploring a wide range of issues from vegetarianism to the fur trade, The Witness is also a fascinating study of the moment of awareness, the transformation that comes with awareness, and the subsequent desire to take action.

The Witness is the premier project of Tribe of Heart, a not-for-profit organization founded by LaVeck and Stein, and is the first in the filmmakers' Animal People Anthology. Among the topics covered in future films will be factory farming. I'm looking to seeing the rest of the series.

Video cover image from Tribe of Heart.