Jenny Stein & James LaVeck
Tribe of Heart Co-Founders and
Filmmakers Jenny Stein
and James LaVeck

We are excited to tell you a little bit about how this film that has touched so many hearts and minds came to be made, and the surprising way people all over the world have responded to it.

Before we began production of The Witness in 1998, we had a series of life-changing encounters with people from ordinary backgrounds who had made an extraordinary commitment to follow the voice of their conscience, to do what they knew was right even when it was sometimes very difficult.

These individuals found the courage to face some difficult truths about their own role in injustices happening to others. Most remarkably, they worked very hard to respond to this tragedy not with fear, anger or judgment, but with creativity and Tribe of Heartnonviolence. First they changed their own lives, and then they committed themselves to helping create peaceful change in society. Their journey was not about trying to be perfect, but about becoming more honest and more whole. It was about consciously choosing a new direction, of taking small steps every day toward being a more aware, more compassionate, and more courageous citizen of our world.

As filmmakers, we wanted to share these powerful stories of personal transformation. So we started a non-profit organization called Tribe of Heart, with a goal of making films about the journey of awakening conscience. The stories we wanted to tell were not about heroes or people of greatness, but about the greatness of the quest to become a better human being, and the heroic qualities that can awaken in any person who follows the voice of their conscience and opens their heart to the plight of those most in need.

AudienceWhen we completed work on The Witness in 2000, we felt good about the message of the film, but really had no idea how audiences would respond. We were surprised and delighted when The Witness received the award for Best Documentary at its film festival premiere. It soon became a film festival favorite, winning nine more top awards as well as receiving enthusiastic reviews from both viewers and members of the press.

MarqueeTouched by this story of one man's remarkable change of heart, people of all ages and backgrounds spontaneously began to take an active role in helping Tribe of Heart bring The Witness to a larger audience. In fact, so many people wanted to help in so many different ways, we often could not keep up!

El TestigoBy 2002, thousands of people had purchased copies of The Witness over the internet to share with their families and friends, along the way bringing the film to the attention of journalists, broadcasters, celebrities, and national political leaders. Enthusiastic viewers organized hundreds of public screenings in their communities, at local theaters, schools, university campuses, libraries, and places of worship. They also brought The Witness to international audiences, partnering with us to translate the film into many languages, an effort that continues to this day.

Peaceable KingdomShooting FootageAs awareness of The Witness grew, so did appreciation for the positive effect it was having on so many lives. A constant flow of helpful suggestions and creative ideas helped us achieve an ever-larger impact. Donations came in to meet the need for developing outreach and educational programs for the film, as well as to cover the cost of producing our next documentary project, Peaceable Kingdom.

Needless to say, this experience completely changed the course of our lives. We have learned that when people work together in service of something larger and more important than ourselves, making a difference is far easier, and far more worldrewarding, than we ever imagined possible.

In the simplest terms, we have seen with our own eyes that one person's change of heart can truly change the world. And while our human society is often overwhelmed with cynicism, exploitation and violence, many small and simple but positive changes made by many people can become a very powerful wave of transformation and peaceful change.

Girl and DucksWe invite you to join us on this journey of self-discovery and service in benefit of those who are most vulnerable, human and non-human alike. Along the way, we will learn so much, make many new friends, and share the joy of doing this much needed work.

--James LaVeck and Jenny Stein
Filmmakers, Co-founders of Tribe of Heart

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