The festival runs from August 4 to August 13 and will screen more than 150 independent films from around the world.
“Good Day” is Cortes’ first feature film. He’s been writing, producing, directing and editing it for nearly two years along with writer Christine Clark. He shot the film around the city, including in Forest Hills and Brooklyn, as well as in Los Angeles.
As a huge fan of Halloween and horror films, he wanted to incorporate the holiday into the film though he was looking to direct a project further away from his comfort zone. The result is a comedy-drama focused around six NYC-based twenty-somethings on Halloween night.
“I just always enjoy the aesthetic and the atmosphere of the holiday and I wanted to add it into the story,” Cortes said.
The characters cross paths with one another on the way to a costume party. Throughout the film, they start to wonder if the scariest part of Halloween is actually real life after facing instances of rejection, loss, neglect and anticipation.
Some of the characters are struggling through personal relationships such as romance and friendship while another is facing a tragic death in the family. The film also sheds light on the struggle of becoming successful in the filmmaking business through a pair of characters who are filmmakers trying to find the right opportunity to get their work noticed.
The two groups of friends don’t know one another but after their paths are crossed, they realize how they’re all connected in a way, Cortes said. The film certainly places an emphasis on exploring the various types of relationships that occur as people age further into adulthood.
In addition to the Halloween aesthetic, Cortes wanted to incorporate his personal experiences into the film. These experiences include integrating the adult’s perspective on the holiday, such as noticing the differences between Halloween as a child and as an adult.
“When I was a kid, I remember going to school, dressing up, seeing a parade and then going trick-or-treating in the afternoon,” he said. “As an adult it all goes away. You still have to go to work, and at night you go party, it’s just so different.”
Prior to “Good Day,” Cortes worked on several horror-themed short films and a web series.
“I’m really excited because I am a Queens filmmaker, and to be able to premiere my film in Queens at the Kew Gardens Cinemas is just really exciting,” Cortes said.
He has found communities of horror fans and of filmmakers in the borough. Together, they’ve helped each other out whether it’s working on each other’s sets or recommending actors.
He’s releasing another Halloween-themed short this year, called “Help Me.” After the short is released, Cortes hopes to get started on a new feature film late this year. That particular project is still in the early stages of writing, however.
Each year, Cortes hopes to release a Halloween-themed short film.
“The shorts for me are fun, so that’s more personal because I just love Halloween, but I want to really focus on features from now,” he said.
And for those interested in checking out the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema, Cortes’ Halloween flick could be the treat you need to escape the dog days of summer.
“If you wanted to see a movie about life, relationships and Halloween, which is the greatest holiday ever, come check out the film,” he said.
“Good Day” will screen on Saturday, August 12 at the Kew Gardens Cinemas, which is located at 81-05 Lefferts Boulevard.