Sons of Atom

By Adam Butcher | Sci-Fi
2 boys have an empty weekend ahead. But a nuclear apocalypse looms over them.

Bradley and Curtis are 13 years old and have an entire weekend ahead of them. Though the boys live in the same area and are the same age, they aren’t really friends.

But Bradley is lonely and his father is gone, and he’s left to deal with his persistent sense of loss, often with only the aid of his imagination.

One day the latent tension and conflict between the boys bubbles up, and Bradley’s imagination may be his only refuge left in a cold, hostile, lonely world.

This dramatic short is a complex mixture of live-action and animation that tells the story of childhood in the age of impending nuclear apocalypse. Set in 1970, the idea of the “atomic bomb” looms in the air, on the TV and in the sounds of the radio, and even children can’t help but pick up the idea that something “out there” could portend great danger to their existence.

Director Adam Butcher tracks the emotional development of the young boy through both the stories he tells himself as he plays with his action figures, and through live-action sequences tracing his life at home and his interactions with Curtis. The narrative proceeds at a measured pace, and as the film’s atmosphere of dread and fear develops, its deliberate tempo begins to feel heavy and ominous.

Filled with beautiful photographed images and sensitive performances, the film also benefits from a richly layered sound design, balancing traditional voiceover with atmospheric sound effects. Applied to both the animated tableaux of action figures and the “real world” of Bradley and Curtis, it creates a dramatic contrast between Bradley’s small, cloistered existence and the larger world where his father has disappeared, heightening his anxiety.

“Sons of Atom” is about a world in which invisible yet omnipresent threats beyond our control loom around us, and how this affects the emotional life of the young and innocent. The “imagination of the wartime child” is a perenially rich theme in literature, but when “war” becomes not just a concrete event but a condition that envelops us invisibly and without boundaries, it shapes emotions and interiority in ways that are only just being explored. By the film’s haunting, explosive end, this imagination is both a source of comfort and tragedy for young Bradley.

You Might Also Like:

Bless Me Father

By Paul M. Horan | Drama
A priest has a moral dilemma when a man confesses a secret that affects his life.

The Goodnight Show

By Charlie Schwan | Drama
A virgin tries to get laid before an unstoppable asteroid ends the world.

Naysayer ft. Steven Yeun

By David M. Helman | Drama
A young father who is cut off from his son takes matters into his own hands.


By Benjamin Bee | Drama
An ultra-Orthodox Jew reunites with his twin brother for their father's funeral.


By Kaveh Mazaheri | Drama
An Iranian woman's husband has an accident at home... and she just watches him die.

Stealing Silver ft. Maisie Williams

By Mark Lobatto | Drama
A woman uncovers the truth about the man living across from her.

Joseph’s Reel

By Michael Lavers | Romance
An elderly man is given the opportunity to relive one day of his life.


By Devon Manney | Animation
A veteran soldier who loses both arms battles phantom pains and memories of a pre-war life.

Hold On

By Charlotte Scott-Wilson | Drama
A young cellist develops stage fright after a string comes lose during a big performance.

Don’t Be a Hero

By Pete Lee | Drama
A woman battles her loneliness by robbing banks as a cowboy on her lunch break.

Our Kind of Love

By Elham Ehsas and Azeem Bhati | Romance
An Afghan village girl goes on her first date in London.

Lost and Found

By Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe | Animation
A clumsy crochet dinosaur must unravel itself to save the love of its life.

Edmund the Magnificent ft. David Bradley & Ian McKellen

By Ben Ockrent | Comedy
A farmer invests his savings in a piglet.


By Joe Gillette | Romance
2 strangers at a wedding reception make an unexpected connection.

Exit Strategy

By Travis Bible | Sci-Fi
A man in a time-loop must work with his brother to prevent a catastrophic fire.

Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening. That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.