The Deepest Breath – Hot Docs 2023

The Deepest Breath Hot Docs 2023
This biography of freedivers Alessia Zecchini and Stephen Keenan purposely keeps their fate vague to help make this documentary a serious nailbiter.

The Deepest Breath – Hot Docs 2023

Runtime: 01:48
Champion and expert safety diver seemed destined for one another despite different paths they took to meet at pinnacle of the free-diving world. The thrilling rewards and inescapable risks of chasing dreams through the depths of the ocean.

An Italian woman attempts to break the world record for the incredibly dangerous sport of freediving in . Freediving is an extreme sport where swimmers try to descend to the deepest depths in a single breath. Alessia Zecchini is an Italian woman following in the footsteps of the world's greatest freediver Natalia Molchanova. Alessia aspires to break records set by Molchanova in both the Vertical Blue competition in the Bahamas and the Blue Hole Arch in Dahab, Egypt. Alessia receives coaching for her record attempts from Irish safety diver Stephen Keenan.

The Deepest Breath Synopsis

The Deepest Breath is a freediving documentary directed by Laura McGann, which tells the simultaneous stories of both Alessia Zecchini and Stephen Keenan. Looking back on events from 2017, it is heavily implied that this story is marked by tragedy. Both Alessia and Stephen are referenced by the interview subjects in the past tense, one of which notes that “extreme sports have extreme consequences.” This adds heavy suspense to the events as Alessia dives to extreme depths in her attempts to break the freediving record.

My Thoughts on The Deepest Breath

Aside from telling a suspenseful and ultimately tragic story, The Deepest Breath is noteworthy for utilizing actual underwater footage of Alessia Zecchini's record attempts. This helps to emphasize how perilous this extreme sport is, as a single life only guides freedivers and is prone to blacking out. The film builds up to Alessia Zecchini's ultimate challenge of diving Dahab's Blue Hole, which is more dangerous than Mount Everest. This results in The Deepest Breath being a serious nail-biter of a documentary.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.