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Rachel Fleischer
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Entries by Rachel Fleischer

It's Still Summer Time: The Music of Blake Collins

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2013 | 1:21 AM

I grew up a die hard Beatles fan -- they always have been and always will be the greatest band on earth. When I fall in love with music now, it's because some aspect of the music I'm listening to takes me to that divine and unexplainable place in my...

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The Many Faces of Homelessness

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2012 | 7:13 PM

On October 11th, I had the honor and privilege of participating in United Way's First Annual "Faces of Homelessness" Art Exhibition which was held in partnership with the Downtown L.A. Art Walk.

United Way of Greater Los Angeles (UWGLA) is a non-profit organization whose core mission is to...

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Children Mending Hearts

(1) Comments | Posted March 1, 2012 | 9:33 AM

I have always wanted to help make the world a better place. I believe that we as individuals have immense power to affect change and touch people's lives in the most profound ways with even the simplest acts of kindness and love. I believe it because I have seen it...

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What Can I Do? An Artistic Campaign to Help the Homeless

(2) Comments | Posted June 8, 2011 | 11:31 AM

I've been committed to helping the homeless for as long as I can remember. I recently finished a documentary feature film called Without a Home, where I set out on a journey to understand more about the homeless people living in my native city of Los Angeles. I...

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A Call To Our Ancestors: Ariana Delawari's "We Came Home"

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2010 | 12:08 PM

"We Came Home" by Ariana Delawari from Rachel Fleischer on Vimeo.

As a kid there were three things I always felt deeply connected to -- the homeless, John Lennon and my ancestors. Of course I'm referring to my living relatives. But what really struck me about this connection, was that I felt it just as much for the relatives I'd never met, from generations long since past. As I've gotten older this connection that I feel for my ancestors has only strengthened profoundly.

In 2001 when I was a senior in college at USC, I took a class on the Holocaust. It was an important class for me and certainly a defining moment in my life to be taking it. As I was learning more about my history and my ancestors, I also found that this connection I had always felt, was growing and deepening in profound ways I could not put into words.

Growing up in a reform Jewish family in West Hollywood, I was more a cultural Jew than a particularly religious one. I went to Hebrew School, had a Bat Mitzvah, and as a family we celebrated Passover and Hanukkah and went to Temple on The High Holy days. But my family never observed the weekly holiday of Shabbat, the day of rest. So it was also during this time in my life that I began going to Shabbat dinners with friends.

There was something about these Shabbat dinners that really affected me. Perhaps it was the newness of a tradition which I knew to be so ancient. Maybe it was the images of women's faces flooding my head from generations before me, who had been lighting the same Shabbat candles I was now lighting. Or perhaps it was that delicious moist challah (Shabbat bread and the kosher wine going to my head as L'chaims (toasts/blessings) were said all around. But something about these Friday nights left me feeling a kind of blissful peace and oneness I'd never felt before.

As we went around the dinner table and said our L'chaims (blessings) I imagined an invisible audience encompassing me, 360 degrees in every direction. An opera house full of all my relatives generations back looking down on me, cheering me on, sending me love, wisdom & good thoughts.

Around the same time I began to go to these Shabbat dinners, something else changed my life. At USC film school I met another young woman, Ariana Delawari. She was a kindred spirit from the moment I met her. We were in the same film production class and by the end of our first class I knew she would be in my life forever. She and I had so many similarities that we might as well have been related, except that she's an Afghan/Sicilian who was raised as a Muslim and I'm an Eastern European Jew. Nonetheless Ariana is like a sister to me.

We were together on September 11th and shortly after, her parents moved back to their native Afghanistan to help rebuild the country. Ariana has been making trips there too over the years to visit her family. She's also been taking stunning photographs, making a beautiful documentary and helping the Afghan people in any way she can.

I've watched her raise money over the years to bring back blankets and supplies to take back to the people of Afghanistan, her people. Ariana like her family will do anything to help. As an artist and a human being her life's work is dedicated to helping her brothers and sisters in Afghanistan.

Ariana is also a musician and when she realized the situation was getting worse in Kabul, she decided if she wanted to make an album there, using Afghan musicians she had to do it now, before tensions escalated. So off she went to record her album.

She made a beautiful record called "Lion of Panjshir" that was mixed and partially produced by David Lynch who also released the album on his label David Lynch MC. It is personal, timeless, timely, heartfelt and hauntingly beautiful. There is one song on the album though that really struck a nerve with me. "We Came Home" is an elegant and chilling, piano ballad about immigration and our collective ancestors who came to America against all odds in search of a better life.

Every time I heard this song, images again flooded my mind. This time I saw the tired and courageous faces in stunning black and white of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island where they came face to face with the Statue of Liberty. I saw people leaving their villages, their homes, their families, their possessions, in search of a dream and the promise of a better life filled with opportunity.

With every heartbreaking note of Ariana's haunting, delicate voice I could not help but feel that she was channeling the voices of those who came before us. Her voice like a vessel, carried my heart to another time and place.

When I told Ariana the affect that her song had on me, she asked me if I would want to direct a music video for it. I agreed of course and decided all the images I had been flooded with every time I heard this beautiful song would now make their way from my head to the screen.

In creating the video I wanted to honor the collective ancestry we all share and find a way to connect the past to the present, as Ariana does with such grace and power in her song.

In the chaos of the everyday we sometimes forget to remember the past. Too often we take for granted what we have, forgetting the courageous sacrifices made by those who came before us.

The video, much like the song, is an opportunity for us all to reflect, to honor, and to remember the courage of those who dream big and risk everything for themselves and for those yet to...

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Without a Home: Helping the Homeless One Phone Call at a Time

(4) Comments | Posted October 7, 2010 | 1:36 PM


There's a man I always see walking around my neighborhood in Los Angeles. I am pretty certain he is homeless and I am definitely sure that he is suffering from a severe mental illness. I have seen him countless times, walking...

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Without A Home: Becoming The Change We Want

(1) Comments | Posted May 27, 2010 | 5:38 PM

Heather Taylor, Joanna Adler, Rachel Fleischer

Since completing my documentary WITHOUT A HOME, the most important, rewarding and exciting thing as a filmmaker has been to share the movie with others. On May 24th at The SmogShoope in...

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Without A Home: Home is Where the Cart Is

(2) Comments | Posted January 12, 2010 | 1:17 PM

I recently moved out of my apartment where I had resided for over five years. I can safely say that this place was where I've felt the most at home since moving out of my parent's house.

I was flooded with so many emotions and memories as I watched my...

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Without A Home: To Live and Die on The Streets of Los Angeles

(5) Comments | Posted October 3, 2009 | 4:16 PM

I met "Skateboard Bruce" in the same spot in the valley I'd met Joby a few days earlier. His real name was Bruce Cram but he went by the nickname Skateboard Bruce, which I have to say, seemed really fitting, even though I never heard him mention owning a skateboard.

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Without A Home: Sisterhood On The Streets

(3) Comments | Posted July 20, 2009 | 11:26 AM

When I was about seven years old, I remember driving to my best friends birthday party with my mom. I was riding in the backseat and we were already running late. As we inched our way up La Cienega approaching Santa Monica Boulevard, I saw a mother and her two...

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Without A Home: What Lies Beneath The Stereotypes?

(10) Comments | Posted June 9, 2009 | 12:30 PM

Over the four year period I spent documenting homeless people living in Los Angeles, very few of my subjects actually provoked genuine fear within me. But Joby was different, despite the immediate love and affection I felt for him, there was something about him that I sensed was unstable. It...

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Without A Home - The Day I Met Joby

(31) Comments | Posted May 18, 2009 | 12:21 PM

One of the first people I met while filming on the streets was Joby. It was a Saturday afternoon. I was driving around North Hollywood looking for homeless people to interview. This was becoming my routine.

Off of Riverside Blvd, around Lankershim on a tiny little dead end road, I...

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Without A Home, But Not Without Hope

(24) Comments | Posted April 30, 2009 | 9:48 AM

In August of 2003, I started filming homeless people all around Los Angeles.

Four years later my experience became my first feature film, a personal documentary, called WITHOUT A HOME.

I was twenty-three years old when I began and I had no idea what I was doing. I was...

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