New Jersey film TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT to debut at The Garden State Film Festival, April 2
March 6, 2017
For Joe Cortese, acclaimed veteran actor and NJ native, making the film was “a special homecoming”
Inspired by true-to-life events, TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT, a film about the power of love over dementia, will debut at the Garden State Film Festival on April 2 in Atlantic City.
In the film, Paterson native Joe Cortese delivers a tour de force performance as Yianni, the star and host of the talk show that plays in his own beautiful but fractured mind. On one fateful day, Yianni, who suffers from dementia, wanders out of his house, and befriends a lonely and lost little boy. The narrative short film, written and directed by New Jersey filmmaker Christina Eliopoulos, was inspired by her father’s life.
“I loved that the subject matter was so personal,” said Mr. Cortese, a veteran of the big screen, television and stage who has played his share of tough guys, romantic heroes and “bad cops and good cops” over his 40-year career. “The director entrusted me to play her father. A man she loved very much who was stricken with this disease. I felt I knew this man. He seemed like my own father, a hard-working son of immigrants, who put his family first and made his own success. And then once I read the script, I was all in. This issue is so prevalent and so central to our society. I felt an obligation to bring this character to life. And for me, it is the most inspiring and challenging role I have ever done.”
Mr. Cortese leads a stellar ensemble cast that includes talented newcomer, 6-year-old Azhy Robertson, co-stars Stephen Badalamenti and Tara Murtha both of New Jersey, the celebrated actress Janis Dardaris in the role of Plousia, Yianni’s beloved wife, and award-winning performers Mark Gindick and Katherine Sigismund in supporting roles.
In the film, the television screen becomes a metaphor for a “window into the mind,” said the director, Ms. Eliopoulos. The past and present, the real and the imagined, the rational mind and the troubled mind, stardom and fandom are co-mingled , she added. “We all tell ourselves stories and create little myths to soothe our troubled conscience,” said Ms. Eliopoulos. “The Yianni character looks for solace in a bright and happy world inside his mind. In his imagined world, he is viral and powerful. He is a star.”
In preparing for the role, Mr. Cortese found himself reflecting on how television often becomes “a best friend, the only friend sometimes” for the elderly and homebound. “I grew up watching Johnny Carson,” said Mr. Cortese. “And the TV, the talk show, became Yianni’s way of relating to the world and to his life. And it’s so sad, to think of Yianni in a dark room, with just the clicker and the TV. He doesn’t recognize his family, so that’s all he’s got left.”
The story evolves beyond that sadness, said Mr. Cortese, and offers up a life-affirming message. “Yianni finds someone, this little lost boy, and they learn what they have in common and they relate to each other,” he said. “Yianni is finally able to offer help, to offer safety, to express love. And that’s the miracle of the story and the miracle of life, the power of love.”
The film, lyrical in its storytelling, visual metaphors, cinematography and pacing, was lensed by cinematographer Russell Swanson, with New Jersey producer Elizabeth Kinder, serving as Executive Producer. Ms. Eliopoulos is an award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker whose previous work includes the documentary features “Greetings from Asbury Park” and “Demon on Wheels.” The short was filmed in and around Asbury Park, at a local diner, and in nearby communities.
For Mr. Cortese, the film became a “special homecoming,” for him. “My first lead in a movie was in 1976 and filmed here in New Jersey “ said Mr. Cortese. That film was the cult classic “The Death Collector (Family Enforcer).” He added, “Here I am 40 years later, in another leading role. My body might have been in Los Angeles, but Jersey is my home and my first love.”
For additional information about the film and the cast and crew, visit
Screening April 2, 2:15 pm at The Garden State Film Festival
Resorts International Hotel & Casino
GETTING TO KNOW JOE
JOE CORTESE is known for his work in the cult classic “The Death Collector” with Joe Pesci, starring roles in “Windows” with Talia Shire, “Monsignor” with Christopher Reeve”, “American History X” with Edward Norton, and “Against the Ropes” with Meg Ryan and Kerry Washington. Joe has received major accolades for his numerous top rated television projects including “The C.A.T. Squad”, a trilogy of two-hour movies for NBC and producer/director William Friedkin. The highly rated mini-series “Something’s Out There” for NBC, “Exclusive” with Suzanne Somers (ABC), “Assault and Matrimony” (NBC), “Just Life” with Victoria Principal (ABC), “Letting’ GO” with John Ritter (ABC), “Born to Run” (FOX), Sidney Sheldon’s mini-series “If Tomorrow Comes” (CBS) and Jackie Collins’ “Lady Boss” (NBC).
Some of his more recent independent films are, “Doobious Sources”, “The Bronx Bull”, with William for director Martin Guigui. Abel Ferrara’s “Go Go Tales” with Willem De Foe and Bob Hoskins, which had its World Premiere at The Cannes Film Festival’ and later that year it had its American Premiere at the New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center. Joe won the Best Actor award for at The New York Hip Hop film festival for his starring role in the comedy, “Shut Up and Shoot, and also starred in “You Got Nothin’”, for director Phillip Angelotti. Other outstanding performances include starring roles in Paramount’s home video movie “Malevolence” portraying a character based on James Earl Ray. “Lucky Town” with James Caan and Kirsten Dunst, “The Shipment” with Matthew Modine and Elizabeth Berkley, and” Ruby” with Danny Aiello. He also received kudos for his role as Johnny Roselli in HBO’s critically acclaimed movie, “The Rat Pack”. Joe also starred in the PBS Vision series special “He Wants Her Back”, written and directed by Stanton Kaye. His other recent TV appearances were with Danny Devito in “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. Joe is a lifetime member of the Actor’s Studio.