Photographer and director A.F. Cortes moved to New York 20 years ago, and he's spent considerable time since documenting NYC's independent music scene. More recently, he'd begun work on a new documentary, Brooklyn is Burning, capturing bands including Bambara, Bodega, Deli Girls, Dreamcrusher, Kill Alters, Sloppy Jane, Stuyedeyed, Surfbort, A Place to Bury Strangers, Public Practice, Uniform and more. That work took on greater urgency as COVID-19 brought live music to a pause, and he's launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the documentary. They're halfway to their goal, and the campaign is now in its final week. Here's more about the doc, and the campaign, from Cortes:

In some shape or form, music has always been a part of my life: I’ve been in the industry as a young musician, later as a designer, now as a photographer and a filmmaker, and always as a fan. For me, music is about unity, even in the darkest of times. It is a ray of hope for a better future. I believe that how we respond to challenge is the truest form of our own humanity, and this is the through-line of our film.

Brooklyn is Burning started last year when Brooklyn was thriving with new music, new audiences, and new venues.

It was becoming increasingly diverse—every single day, the local scene united Black, white, Latino, gay, non-binary, and straight under the same moon. It was the perfect counterpoint to the politics, fear, and hate that came from Washington. Brooklyn was burning with new sounds, new experiences, new art. We captured its great rise in our filming through shooting shows, interviews, a sea of sweaty bodies dancing in a mosh pit of love, and dance floors full of spit and old beer. Trust me, I do love the smell of a concert the next morning.

Then, COVID-19 happened.

The current reality has torn—and is continuing to tear—the fabric of our community apart. No live music, no more unemployment benefits, no more small business help; venues are closing, artists are leaving, everything is changing.

We’ve entered what may be our final act.

I hope, alongside my music peers, friends, and colleagues, that this act will have an uplifting ending. But, there is no guarantee. There are peaks and valleys in every great drama, just this time it is real, and it hurts to see how everything we once had could be gone in one year’s time. It is an important moment; a fork in the road, a historic shift that needs to be documented.

This is where we ask for your help.

As things are falling apart, we as a music and art community need to cling tighter to one another. With this film and our Kickstarter, we want to help our community. It is hard, and out of our comfort zone, but we believe it is the right thing to do. What we ask of you, is to help tell our story—to help keep the narrative of this scene front and center.

Brooklyn was burning last year—this year the flame is about to be extinguished.

Please help us to keep the fire alive.

Rewards for contributing to the Kickstarter include a photo zine, postcards and archival prints with Cortes' live music photography, a signed split EP from Anatomy and Blu Anxxiety, and a signed copy of Stuyedeyed's Moments of Terribleness 7". Find those, and more information about the project, here, and watch the trailer for Brooklyn is Burning below.

Cortes also recently appeared on Saint Vitus Bar's "Age of Quarantine" livestream interview series to discuss the project; watch his conversation with artist and illustrator Caroline Harrison below.

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