March 31, 2023

In A World Filled with Noise, There Is Another Sound Worth Hearing, and Her Name Is Rachel Flowers

A scene from “Hearing is Believing.”

HONOLULU (Nov. 7, 2016) — The 36th Hawai‘i International Film Festival presents two screenings of “Hearing Is Believing,” a new feature documentary by award-winning, Hawai‘i-born writer and director Lorenzo DeStefano, on Tuesday Nov. 8, at 5:45 p.m., with an encore screening on Friday Nov. 11 at 1:30 p.m., both at the Regal Dole Cannery Theaters.

Hearing Is Believing will be released in the Spring of 2017 by Foresight Releasing and Gravitas Ventures. Recently names one of Honolulu Magazine’s “13 Must-See Movies at HIFF,” and featured on Hawai‘i News Now in Terry Hunter’s movie review segment with his top four picks of HIFF.

“Hearing Is Believing” introduces the world to the astonishing young musician and composer, Rachel Flowers. Born 15 weeks premature, at a weight of one pound five ounces, Rachel lost her eyesight due to Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). At two she began picking up melodies from her musician parents and was soon playing every song she heard by ear, including Bach fugues. The child had perfect pitch.

DeStefano and his team have created a dynamic and engaging portrait of a year and a half in the life of a tight knit American family, a single mom and her two kids, living paycheck to paycheck in working class Oxnard, California, with Rachel’s stunning music as the soundtrack. Hearing is Believing revels in Rachel’s joyous and free-flowing love of song, illuminating the bonds of family and the divine mysteries of creativity. “Making a film about someone’s life, even a short period of that life, is not something to enter into lightly, for filmmaker or subject. It is a bond that has to hold for a very long time before fruition, and a lifetime afterwards,” adds DeStefano.

“Just saw preview of a superb Oscar caliber documentary, “Hearing is Believing,” the moving story of the versatile Ventura County musician Rachel Flowers. Blind at birth, Rachel’s powerful true story is brilliantly told by director Lorenzo DeStefano, who takes his audience through an emotional journey. Look out for this unforgettable film.” – Ivor Davis – Music and Film Journalist

Among the great musicians appearing with Rachel in the film are Grammy winners Stevie Wonder, Dweezil Zappa, Arturo Sandoval, two-time Grammy nominated jazz pianist, Taylor Eigsti, the late Progressive Rock icon Keith Emerson, Hawai‘i ukulele master Benny Chong, and 50 members of the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony, performing Rachel’s original composition, “At The End of the Day.”

Lorenzo will be attending both screenings along with Rachel Flowers and her mother Jeanie.

Rachel looks forward to sharing her music with island audiences, with two Live appearances in Honolulu. BLUE NOTE HAWAI‘I – Wednesday Nov. 9 @ 6:30 + 9:00 at the Outrigger Waikiki at 2335 Kalakaua Ave. (808) 777-4890. Advance tickets available at

Rachel will also be performing at MEDICI’S JAZZ CLUB – Saturday Nov. 12th from 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m at the Manoa Marketplace, 2754 Woodlawn Dr. / Unit 7-103. (808) 351-0901 / [email protected]. Advance tickets available at

A multi-talented instrumentalist and composer, Rachel Flowers is twenty-two years old and lives in Oxnard, California with her younger brother Vaughan and her mother, Jeanie, a singer and musician. She also has a close relationship with her father, Dan Flowers, also a musician. Born 15 weeks premature on December 21, 1993 in San Diego, California, Rachel’s birth weight was one pound five ounces. She lost her eyesight at three months old due to Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). When she was two years old Rachel’s mother showed her how to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on the piano. Rachel picked up the melody immediately and was soon playing every song she heard by ear. The child had perfect pitch.

Starting at the age of four Rachel became a student at the Southern California Conservatory of Music. Along with her study of flute, piano, and music fundamentals, it was at SCCM’s Braille Music Division that Rachel learned Braille Music Code and other adaptive computer music applications. In 2005 and 2008 she was featured in two segments of the CBS News program, “60 Minutes,” about the Music Academy for the Blind in Los Angeles. She is a very active part of several jazz lineups in California and is composing original songs and orchestral works. Jazz, classical, soul, R+B, and progressive rock all play a part in helping Rachel forge a style that is as immensely accomplished as it is uniquely her own.

Originally from Honolulu, Hawai‘i, Lorenzo DeStefano is a Director member of the Directors Guild of America and past member of the Motion Picture Editor’s Guild. He is producer/director of the 2017 documentary feature, Hearing is Believing,”  about the young musician and composer, Rachel Flowers. He produced and directed “Los Zafiros – Music From The Edge Of Time,” an award-winning music feature about the Beatles of 1960s Cuba. DeStefano also produced, directed and edited the acclaimed public television documentary “Talmage Farlow,” a portrait of the great American jazz guitarist.

Current narrative feature projects include “Serpentine,” an urban thriller set in India and London, and “Hypergraphia,” a true story based on “The Inman Diary,” published by Harvard University Press.

SCREENPLAYS include the originals “Serpentine,” “Lads,” and “Deep Inside.” Screen adaptations include “Hypergraphia,” “Creeps” (from the play by David E. Freeman), “Cropper’s Cabin” (from the novel by Jim Thompson), and “Appointment in Samarra” (co-writer – from the novel by John O’Hara).

PLAYS include “Shipment Day,” (Best Play – 2016 Playbuilders of Hawaii – New Works Festival). “Providence” is DeStefano’s stage adaptation of the screenplay by the late English dramatist David Mercer. “Camera Obscura” is a dramatization of The Inman Diary. Developed at Seattle Repertory Theatre, the play received its world premiere at the Almeida Theatre in London, both productions helmed by the celebrated English director, Jonathan Miller.

PHOTOGRAPHY – DeStefano’s visual roots are as a teenage street photographer in Honolulu. In addition to covering life on Oahu as he saw it, his first thematic project was “Rest Homes Hawai’i.” He continued to freelance in California before turning his attention from still photography to film. He credits his journeys to Cuba starting in 1993 with reawakening the photographer in him. His traveling exhibition, “La Hora Magica / The Magic Hour – Portraits of a Vanishing Cuba” has been shown extensively in New York, Chicago, London, Havana, Los Angeles, and Vancouver. The entire photographic archive of DeStefano’s work in Cuba was acquired in 2016 by The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California, and is now in their Permanent Collection.


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