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SUBJECTS — U.S./1991 - present & New York;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Caring for Animals; Breaking Out;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Respect; Caring.
Age: 13+; Not Rated; Documentary; 2004, 43 minutes; Color.
This is an award-winning documentary about personal transformation and caring for animals. Eddie Lama, a street wise Brooklyn contractor, takes viewers inside his personal odyssey from animal avoider to animal protector — and then to vegetarian and crusader against the cruelties of the fur industry. It all began when a woman he wanted to date asked him to petsit her cat for the weekend.
Eddie Lama is an articulate narrator who speaks from the heart. He tells his story with self-deprecating humor. Mr. Lama's love for animals radiates from the screen and envelopes the audience. The final scenes show Mr. Lama driving a van, outfitted with a large screen TV, playing video clips of the abuse of animals in the fur industry. He parks the van in front of high fashion New York City stores that sell fur. The scenes of animal abuse and the compassionate reactions of the by-standers are riveting.
The Witness is an engrossing story of the capacity for emotional and moral growth that all people possess. This movie is appropriate for English Language Arts classes for two additional reasons: (1) it will drive writing and other skills-based assignments; and (2) it will facilitate critical thinking and self-awareness.
This film is an excellent vehicle for awakening students to the fact that our actions have implications for animals that we need to take into account. It is also an excellent introduction to the animal rights movement, which gains adherents daily and which is an increasingly vocal part of society's current debate about ethics.
The Teachwithmovies.com Learning Guide to The Witness provides teachers and parents with the background and discussion questions to highlight the themes of the film.
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The Witness is an excellent film about personal transformation.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To give you a sense of how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to develop lesson plans, and by parents to supplement school curriculum or for homeschooling, we have set out below two endorsements for The Witness.
"I highly recommend the use of 'The Witness' in secondary school classrooms. It can be used as a tool to increase knowledge and broaden understanding of the full spectrum of human attitudes and subsequent behaviors exhibited toward animals." Sheila Schwartz, Ed.D United Federation of Teachers
"I encourage all teachers to watch this film and share it with their students. Together, you have the power and the wherewithal to bring about a new vision for change that can result in a new compassion and concern for all of life." Yale Wishnik, PhD, California Teachers Association
The Learning Guide to the film The Witness contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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