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.
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.
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 of those 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 his animal advocacy work through a variety of non-profit endeavors, including Oasis Sanctuary
, where he provides a refuge for abused and abandoned animals, and FaunaVision
, which focuses on his unique approach to mobile, street-level video education.