After Rachel Fleischer graduated from college she took out a loan for a video camera, and took to roaming the streets to create a project she was sincere about filming. She would dedicate the next four years of her life to documenting the lives of homeless people on the streets of Los Angeles. Through her very personal and compassionate documentary, Without a Home, she gives some of the people she met a chance to tell their stories honestly. Fleischer explains how she spent most of her life feeling curious about and connected to the homeless. Quite simply, she wanted to know them personally. This documentary became an extension of a lifelong interest for Fleischer both to know the homeless and begin to help them any way she could. The most unusual part of her documentary is how she actually became involved in all of her subjects’ lives. Usually the video camera can act as a barrier from the other world being filmed, but Fleischer invites herself into their lives as she lets her new friends into her own life.
Throughout the documentary, many difficult truths about the homeless people she met are exposed such as mental illnesses and drug addiction. Fleischer does not pretend to be a superhero, or to have the solutions to save the homeless. Instead she gives them a platform to tell their stories, and is able to make a difference in all of their lives. Through the smallest act of listening to them, to a larger act of getting a few of them into a rehabilitation center, she shows the power of a little kindness. I felt really empathetic towards all of the people and families documented by the end of the film as their stories unfolded. I found myself really proud of them when they make positive life changes, and devastated when they fell. It’s a very moving documentary that’s full of hope. It really moves past the stereotypes surrounding the homeless, and gives each of the people documented the chance to share a full portrait of their lives. Rachel Fleischer has also launched a campaign to raise awareness about these issues called What Can I Do.
The film is available to order and will be released today on DVD.