On 17 January 2013, Empatia held a screening of “The Witness”. After the film, we had the pleasure to interview, over Skype, the filmmakers of this documentary. The audience also had the opportunity to talk to a teacher who enhances the curriculum for her class by exploring the subject of the exploitation of animals and animal advocacy. Here is an account of the event.
“The Witness” is a documentary made in 2001 by Jenny Stein and James LaVeck from the non-profit organisation Tribe of Heart. It’s a portrait of Eddie Lama, a New York construction contractor raised in Brooklyn who, already middle-aged, goes through a profound transition creating anew his attitude to animals and his relations with them. He also redefines the idea of personal responsibility and decides to become an animal advocate, sharing with other people his newly acquired knowledge of animal exploitation.
Jenny and James pointed out that when they met Eddie at an animal rights conference he – at first sight - didn’t fit the stereotype of an animal activist at all. Indeed, they later learned from Eddie, that at home when he was growing up animals were treated with disgust and associated with dirt and diseases. Eddie carried this attitude well into his adult life and only a fortunate coincidence eventually changed it. The situation involved a woman and a cat. Eddie agreed to take the cat home for a while hoping he would get a date with the woman out of it.