The event raised more than $50,000 to assist Hollywood’s homeless neighbors with basic, uncovered expenses, as they move into permanent homes. Guests in attendance included Jason Ritter (The Event, They’re with Me), Ben Lee (musician), Ione Skye (Say Anything), Aileen Getty, and special guest emcee Charles Fleischer (Who Framed Roger Rabbit).
HOLLYWOOD 4WRD (4 Walls, a Roof and a Door) is a group formed by the Hollywood business community, local government, social service providers, the non-profit sector and the faith community committed to ending homelessness in Hollywood by 2018. So far, Hollywood 4WRD has permanently housed 140 people. Learn more at www.hollywood4wrd.org.
WITHOUT A HOME follows 23-year-old LA-native Rachel Fleischer as her desire to understand her connection to LA’s homeless population takes her on an extraordinary four-year journey into the lives of six homeless individuals and families struggling to find homes, get clean and survive. Learn more at www.withoutahomefilm.com.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
LOS ANGELES (KABC) — There’s a young filmmaker who wants you to know about Los Angeles’ homeless problem.
Filmmaker Rachel Fleischer spent four-a-half years working on the documentary “Without a Home.” In it viewers meet several L.A. residents struggling with life for one reason or another.
It was a labor of love that sometimes broke her heart.
“I did it because I really want to help these people and I really want to bring awareness and attention and compassion to the issue,” said Fleischer.
When it comes to being homeless unemployment, addiction and mental illness all live on our streets.
Fleischer takes a hard look at the problem. We met up with her at the Midnight Mission on L.A’s skid row.
“I mean, there are so many homeless people who I talk to who just say, ‘Thank you for talking to me. Nobody’s talked to me all day,'” said Fleischer. “That to me is everything.”
Fleischer is well aware that a lot of people in L.A. are unaware of just how bad the homeless problem is- tens of thousands of people with nowhere to live.
So when she looks out onto those streets, what does she see?
“I see what some people would actually describe as a third world country and it’s crazy that it’s right here in L.A.,” said Fleischer.
“Without a Home” is on DVD now, and is headed to Video on Demand early next year.
November 9, 2011
GETTING TO KNOW THE HOMELESS
When first meeting Rachel Fleischer, her innocent, girl-next-door appearance may lead you to wonder why this nice Jewish girl from a good home would spend her weekends among the indigent population of Los Angeles’ Skid Row. The reason can be found in the young director’s documentary film, “Without a Home,” which follows the anguished lives of the homeless and confronts many preconceived notions about them.
For Fleischer, it comes down to her core values: “Tikkun olam, the idea of helping people and repairing the world, has always been, as far as I can remember, a big part of who I am,” she says. “And one of the things that I really love about Judaism is that it’s so much a part of our culture to help other people and give back. I think it’s a very human idea, but I also think it’s a very Jewish idea to want to give back.”
Fleischer was raised in West Hollywood in what she describes as “a show-business family,” where Judaism was always close to her heart, but more culturally than religiously. Attending temple on High Holy Days is still a very spiritual experience for her, and as she’s gotten older, Judaism has become more important in her life. Her mother, an interior designer, was raised Orthodox, and her father is actor/comedian Charles Fleischer, best-known as the voice of Roger Rabbit in the Steven Spielberg-produced film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” Fleischer was first bitten by the entertainment bug as a child, visiting her father on that film’s set. She was encouraged, particularly by her father, to explore her creativity. “I would put on little plays at home using my younger sister and perform them for my father’s show-biz friends, like Sean Penn,” Fleischer recalls.
Her journey to making a documentary about the homeless also began at an early age. Growing up in Los Angeles, she was frequently exposed to the homeless population, observing them from the back seat of the family car. “I always noticed homeless people living on the streets,” she says. “I didn’t know why they were out there — cold, hungry and alone — and I was on the other side, with food to eat, a bed to sleep in, protected by the love of my parents. “Despite our immediate differences, I felt a strong connection to these people whom I had never met.”
After graduating from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, she moved to New York for a while. When she returned to Los Angeles for a job on the crew of the film “Sideways,” Fleischer decided to act upon her interest in Los Angeles’ homeless population, which numbers about 90,000. “It was a combination of wanting to deal with this curiosity and fascination that I had, and wanting to create something and make a movie. I think this thing had been building and building in me for so long, and I’d been waiting to do it. After just having been on a film set and seeing a movie getting made, it elevated the hunger in me to make something. But it was really a culmination of my entire life to want to tell these people’s stories.”
Fleischer began shooting her film in 2004, when she was 23, an age she describes as “the formative years for a person, when you really grow up and learn a lot about who you are.” She approached the project simply. “I didn’t need a lot of money to do it. I didn’t need a script. There was something very liberating about knowing I could just get in my car and do this. I had a list of questions that I knew I wanted to ask, so I just started interviewing people and developing relationships over a long period of time.”
She did not plan to become as personally attached as she did to the lives of her subjects, however. “From the moment it started, it was never going to be an objective journalistic approach in the classic sense of the word,” Fleischer said. “The way it happens in the movie was a very organic, natural process. And then, once it started, it accelerated very quickly.” The result is a documentary that tells a highly personal story from the inside out. Eventually, the project took over her life. “I felt like I had a whole other secret life. I didn’t call my mom that much, because … whenever I would call her I felt like it must be every Jewish mother’s nightmare to hear your kid is roaming around Skid Row with a $3,000 camera.”
For her own part, she wasn’t worried. “I just felt that the feeling of being needed was more powerful than anything I felt that was fearful or frustrating or doubting of what I was doing,” she says. “And as I started getting more involved in these people’s lives, I actually felt like I was helping, but not all the time. Sometimes I didn’t know if I was enabling them and making things worse.”
Making her film provided Fleischer with a new understanding of the homeless, including that many of them suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness or the aftermath of abusive childhoods.
“I had a sense that this was a population that obviously had all these kinds of flaws that I was sheltered from, but in terms of understanding those words — I had no idea. I knew the words ‘mental illness’ and the words ‘drug addiction,’ but in terms of understanding what it meant to these people, I had no idea.”
She hopes her film will help educate the public as well, and she points to Gilbert, one of the subjects, as a prime example.
“There’s this big misconception that these [people] choose to be out there. America has this funny thing, that if you really want it bad enough, you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and change your life, and it’s just not true. It’s a lovely idea. But seeing Gilbert high on heroin, living in that tent and knowing that he had children in the foster-care system and his wife was hooking for their drug money, and realizing he wanted help, defied all the stereotypes I had grown up hearing about. I realized that no one in that condition could ever help [himself] up.
“To me, that was such a profoundly unjust thing. I realized there was something very simple to be done, and probably one of the most powerful experiences I had was making a movie about it.”
“Without a Home” was just released on DVD nationwide and will be released on Video on Demand in December. To purchase “Without a Home,” click here.
For more information about “Without a Home,” visit www.withoutahomefilm.com.
For more information on What Can I Do? – the mission is to raise awareness and compassion about homelessness
through art and social action. – Go to www.whatcanidocampaign.org
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.
Without a Home
Directed by Rachel Fleischer
Produced by Joanna Adler & Fleischer
Released by Breaking Glass
USA. 74 min. Not rated
Rachel Fleischer’s documentary Without a Home is vital. It takes advocacy for a cause and embeds it in a truly moving story. Her film makes the invisible visible and gives a voice to a population, the homeless, that has been voiceless and drained of meaning and made to be, like the dispossessed throughout history, not human. Or perhaps, for the more liberal, a lesson: “Don’t end up like this man.” In any event, Fleisher helps, through a thoroughly emotional narrative, to make her subjects, and by proxy the homeless in general, real.
Without a Home is a small film, perhaps inexpertly made in terms of visuals, but that is rather the point. It is intimate, and through that intimacy, it creates vulnerability and opens up a space for homelessness to be seen for what it is. Fleischer has an eye for narrative and is effective at putting pieces together to make a satisfying film that isn’t relentless in stating its intentions. It neither infinitely repeats some progressive truism nor cloyingly plays upon your sympathies. Much of its power derives from its genuineness. It also serves as a Rorschach test for whether a person has a soul or not. If you are okay with people being homeless after you watch this, then there’s something sociopathic in your psyche.
While Fleischer’s inclusion of herself in the documentary may at first come off like some unthinking postmodern flourish or narcissistic, it soon becomes apparent that when dealing with a subject like the homeless in such a personal way, one cannot help but become enmeshed in their lives. Through a mixture of guilt, compassion, empathy, and friendship, Fleischer becomes the audience surrogate. As she becomes wrapped up in her subjects, through her, we too cannot help but become entangled as well.
With the financial crisis still in full swing, there’s something zeitgeisty here. While the project began well before things started to go truly downhill, homelessness is poised to become an even more crippling problem. It’s going to get worse, thanks to the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems debacle, robo-signing, and lenders, like Bank of America, rushing through hundreds of thousands of foreclosures, possibly illegally. Keeping this in mind, Fleischer’s film is instrumental in reminding everyone that, as her rabbi once reminded her, “Paralysis is a luxury.” For Aristotle, the end result of a logical argument was always action—as it should be for the end of this moving, articulate film.
Without A Home screened at The Smog Shoppe in Los Angeles to help raise awareness and funds to benefit the St. Joseph Center, a wonderful organization that helps homeless men, women and children throughout Los Angeles. The screening was sponsored by LA Confidential Magazine.
The night was a huge success and many people donated and got involved.
See the photos from the night in LA Confidential Magazine here.
To see the rest of the pictures from the evening click here.