ITV Fest features Fritz's mature gem 'AKT 2'


NEWFANE -- What would you do with four days in Sweden?

Robert Fritz made a movie.

And that movie, a 30-minute gem, called "AKT 2" is having its first showing in the area when it screens at the Independent Television and Film Festival in Dover on Sept. 26-28.

A mature, well-acted and well-crafted story of former lovers and the feelings stirred when their paths cross again, "AKT 2" has garnered accolades and awards at festivals since its release earlier this year, including an Audience Choice and Grand Jury Prize at the Woods Hole Film Festival, an Audience Choice Award at the Artisanal Festival International Cannes World Cinema Initiative, and a nomination as Best Short Film at the International Film Awards Berlin.

All this is very gratifying for Fritz, an author, composer, organizational consultant and filmmaker who calls Newfane home.

A labor of love, "AKT 2" overcame significant obstacles of distance, time zone, language and schedule to come to life. It was born from a conversation Fritz had with co-writer and actor Michel Riddez, with whom Fritz was working on another project in Sweden.

The two agreed to work together, and plotted and wrote the script together via Skype. Fritz would write scenes in English, and then send them to Riddez, who translated them into Swedish. The film is in Swedish, with English subtitles. It was filmed over four wintry days on a return trip by Fritz to Sweden.

Riddez contacted actress and singer Kirsti Torhaug, who works in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, to see if she would take the part of Anna, opposite him. One read of the script convinced her to do it.

"I read the manuscript, and I liked it. I liked the conversation scenes between the two of them," said Torhaug, in an interview last week in Newfane, where she was to work on Fritz's next film, "Chasing Rainbows." "I think that's the problem sometimes with a manuscript. It's nothing like you expect (in real life). ... This had a touch of reality that I like."

Torhaug created the role of Anna, a woman who has been hurt by past relationships and who has learned to keep her distance because of it. When she runs into her former lover, the walls she has built crumble. It's a juicy role, with emotional depth, played to perfection.

"I think you always have to bring in all your life, all your experiences," Torhaug said. "That's what acting is actually ... to bring in all you experiences, all your colors."

The scenes between Torhaug and Riddez play like sumptuous classical duets, making "AKT 2" the kind of pleasing film all too rarely made these days. Fritz couldn't be more pleased with the acting in the film. He sent Torhaug an e-mail after filming saying "You could have made other choices but not better choices."

"You're looking at an authentic, important great artist," Fritz said of Torhaug. "There's always something going on that's real ... that takes your breath away."

Little wonder then, that Fritz turned back to Torhaug for his next project, "Chasing Rainbows," a music-filled story centering on a jazz club and a daughter's attempt to connect with the troubled mother who gave her up for adoption many years ago. Torhaug sings in the film, as well.

Fritz wrote the mother's part with Torhaug in mind. For the daughter, he had in mind Natalie Neilson, who worked with Fritz on the film "Twice," filmed in and set in Brattleboro, particularly at Twice Upon a Time.

Fritz recently inked a deal with a Hollywood agency to help him distribute "AKT 2", "Twice" and a third film, "Past Tense."

In the meantime, "AKT 2" will be shown at the ITVFest in Dover, with screenings on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 12:20 p.m.; on Friday, Sept. 27, at 3:30 p.m.; and on Saturday, Sept. 28, at 12:30 p.m.

Fritz is one of several filmmakers with local ties whose work is featured at the festival. Brattleboro native Tim Lawrence's documentary, "Forgotten Rails," which will be shown on Sept. 28 at noon. And Isaiah Palmeri, a New England Youth Theatre alumnus now studying film at Alfred University, will show his film "Second Thought" at various times all three festival days.

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