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Underground Bed-Stuy Record Store Gets Star Turn in Indie Film

Bed Stuy Record Shop Featured in Indie Film
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Just steps from the Franklin Avenue C subway station and down though a sidewalk grate into a Fulton Street basement lies a Bed-Stuy gem that won't be hidden for much longer.

Israel's Record Shop, located in the basement of 1118 Fulton St., where the sounds of old jazz records emanate and a suit of armor stands outside holding a sign that announces, simply, "RECORDS" — is about to get more than just neighborhood recognition thanks to a short film about a young man whose life changes after a single visit there.

Director and Bed-Stuy resident Kate Cortesi's film, "Lazarus," which had raised $8,200 on IndieGoGo by Thursday, almost $3,000 more than the goal, was both shot in and inspired by Israel's, Cortesi said.

It's a store Cortesi calls her favorite "under-the-radar" spot.

"It's such a stunning, visual place," Cortesi said. "It has the effect of being so mysterious and rare."

"We had this incredible looking location," Cortesi said. "And the vibe the place gives you is the vibe of the story."

After writing the script, Cortesi reached out to her friend, producer and Fort Greene resident Jessica Lee to help with the production, using both veteran and up-and-coming actors to fill the roles.

The story captures a piece of the neighborhood that many people feel is slipping away, Lee said.

"More people need to hold on to these businesses and find a way to keep them here," Lee said. "It's important that these people are highlighted and valued."

In the story, Lazarus, played by 19-year-old Long Island actor Isaiah Mueller, enters the Fulton Street shop looking for a gift for his grandmother.

While the filmmakers are tight-lipped about the plot, the film's description says Lazarus "will make a friend — and lose him nearly as fast — as he learns the true price of getting something for nothing."

In real life, Mueller said he also shares an interest in wax thanks to his father, a local DJ and record collector.

The young actor said he was blown away by the shop, a small basement space lined with hundreds of records.

"I walked in and I was like, 'first off, this place is amazing,'" Mueller said. "The collection the owner has, once you see it all, it's like, this guy is collecting some serious history."

Israel Ben Yahuda, the shop's owner, described his space as more than just a record store.

"What I want people to feel when they come into my store is a little love, maybe reminisce of some good times they had," he said in a video for the film. "Feel the vibes of this collection."

The filmmakers aim to complete the short film by the end of the summer, in the hope of getting into the fall festival circuit.

Now the mission is to create a film worthy of all the support they've received from their fundraiser fans and friends, Cortesi said.

"It really is incredibly, incredibly moving," she said. "And it's something to live up to."