Chattanooga Film Festival: Breathing Happy (2022)

This film follows the journey of Dylan Brady, who is played for most of the film by director and writer Shane Brady (BallersDr. Sleep) and Owen Atlas when he is young, a man who is struggling to achieve his first year of sobriety.

It goes deep, not just showing his journey, but how his extended family deals with him, which is all caused by the death of his father (John D’Aquino) when he was young. As Christmas approaches and he’s cut off from his family — they had to finally give him the tough love that it took to make him reach out for help — and must go through this next stage of his recovery alone.

June Carryl, who plays Dylan’s mother, is incredible in this, a woman striving to keep her adopted family together despite years of hardship. The love that she has for her son shines through even when it’s impossible to feel anything for him. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, who made The Endless and Spring, also do great voice work as some of the characters that live inside Dylan’s head.

The rest of the strong cast includes Katelyn Nacon (The Walking Dead), Augie Duke (Spring), Brittney Escalante, Jim O’Heir (Parks and Recreation) and even NHL Hall of Famer Phil Esposito, who plays the future that Dylan could become. Hockey — and magic — have a major role in this movie, so seeing Esposito be the perfect older Dylan is a great idea.

Breathing Happy takes you on a journey that’s not always comfortable, but the filmmakers were committed to telling what this story is truly like, for good and bad.

Want to see it for yourself? It’s now playing as part of the Chattanooga Film Fest. Virtual tickets are available at

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