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:

Omnibus (Oscars)

By Sam Karmann | Comedy
A man boards the wrong train and desperately tries to get off between stations.

Little Bear

By Nicolas Birkenstock | Drama
A young girl sleepwalks and runs away at night. Now she wants to see where she goes...

Tala'vision

By Murad Abu Eisheh | Drama
A young girl watches a secret TV in a war-torn world. But it becomes life or death.

Iniquity

By Oliver Goodrum | Drama
A man who bullied a disabled girl tries to escape his past. Then an angry mob finds him.

Pony

By Candice Carella | Drama
A single mother leaves her young daughter with a rock musician uncle.

Sylvia

By Richard Prendergast | Drama
A single mother takes her family on a road trip. But it's to an unwanted destination.

Second Best

By Alyssa McClelland | Comedy
Twin sisters turn into rivals when one's gymnastics career steals the spotlight.

No More Wings

By Abraham Adeyemi | Drama
2 friends meet at their favorite fried chicken shop. But their lives have diverged.

Avarya

By Gokalp Gonen | Animation
A man is trapped on a spaceship after his robot overseer finds every planet uninhabitable.

Feeling Through (Oscars)

By Doug Roland | Drama
A homeless teen meets a deaf-blind man who changes his life forever...

Ernie

By Hadley Hillel | Drama
A man's suicide attempt rips a hole in the ceiling. Then he befriends the boy upstairs.

Dig Your Own Grave

By Kirk Larsen | Comedy
A man is forced to dig his own grave in the desert. But the ground is hard.

Call Connect

By Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell | Drama
A young helpline operator takes her first call and gets more than she expected.

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

Welcome to Iron Knob

By Dave Wade | Comedy
A young boy accidentally shoots a stranger and the town tries to cover it up.



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.