A touching, heartfelt tale of a Mother trying to prepare her autistic son for life without her, Michael Lukk Litwak’s 16-minute short Napoleon In Exile is a surprisingly emotive watch that relies on relatable themes and character investment to resonate with its audience.
A huge transition from the filmmaker’s previous film The Life and Death of Tommy Chaos and Stacey Danger, Litwak admits he was attracted to writer Daniel Reitz’s story because of its simplicity.
“I’ve always been interested in themes of escape and the relationship between reality and fantasy”, says Litwak. “I wanted to make a movie that explored those ideas in a poetic and sincere way. I loved that it had a really good sense of humor and didn’t take itself too seriously”.
With it’s laser-wielding dinosaurs and underwater/outer-space adventures, the director’s earlier film was a complex production of set-building, green-screen, puppets and miniatures. His latest film was shot over the course of 3-nights in 2 different locations (the house and the forest).
This more simplistic approach certainly doesn’t mean Napoleon In Exile packs any less of a punch than Tommy Chaos though, in fact, probably quite the opposite. Where Litwak’s earlier short dazzled with its impressive aesthetic, this is a film that impacts due to its strong performances and emotive, relatable themes.
“My goal with this film was to really focus on character and performances and try to do something completely outside of my comfort zone”, says Litwak, “I’m really proud of the performances that I got and how we tried to visually represent the character’s relationships through the blocking and the camera work”.
With two features (one based around The Life and Death of Tommy Chaos and Stacey Danger), a series that focuses on a 10-year high school reunion that is interrupted by the zombie apocalypse and a new short made as part of the Sci-Five collective, in various stage of development, Litwak’s filmmaking future certainly look bright.
You can keep up-to-date with his work at his website below