Celebrity diver sues Netflix over fictionalized movie he says is about him killing his wife
Celebrity free diver Francisco "Pipín" Ferreras is taking Netflix to court over the 2022 French film No Limit, which he says has defamed him by suggesting that he killed his wife, Audrey Mestre.
According to a legal complaint filed Wednesday in California, Ferreras is suing the streaming platform, as well as production company Nolita Cinéma and writer-director David M. Rosenthal, for defamation per se and false light invasion of privacy because he says the sports drama is a "thinly veiled account of the events surrounding the death by drowning of Ferreras' wife" in 2002. Mestre, a record-setting free diver, died at 28 after an air balloon that was supposed to rapidly lift her to the water's surface failed during a 171-meter dive in the Dominican Republic.
Released worldwide on Netflix in September, No Limit stars Camille Rowe and Sofiane Zermani as Roxane Aubrey and Pascal Gautier, two free divers who are in a contentious and abusive relationship. The movie was billed as being "inspired by real events" and was among Netflix's most-watched non-English titles during its first two weeks.
Toward the end of the film, Pascal is seen checking Roxanne's air tank ahead of a dive — despite the fact that it has already been checked — and it is heavily insinuated that he has sabotaged it so that she doesn't have enough air to rise to the surface.
Everett Collection Camille Rowe and Sofiane Zermani in 'No Limit'
Ferreras' complaint alleges that the defendants made "a deliberate decision for dramatic purposes to defame Ferreras by showing in the Film that he murdered Audrey by intentionally sabotaging the equipment that should have brought her back to the surface." In reality, the complaint says, "Audrey's death was an accident and Ferreras risked his life in a vain attempt to save her."
The complaint also asserts that No Limit "seeks to present itself as a fictional work" while simultaneously presenting a number of "striking similarities" between its story and real life, and featuring a "photograph of Audrey with her name and a reference of her death."
The end of the film features a photo of Mestre and the words "In memory of Audrey Mestre, 1974-2002," followed by additional text: "Audrey tragically died on October 12, 2002, in the Dominican Republic while attempting to beat the world record at 171 meters." A subsequent disclaimer states, "This film remains a work of fiction. Any resemblance with reality is coincidental."
Ferreras is asking for trial by jury and seeking actual and presumed damages, punitive damages, and relief for the costs of the suit plus an additional relief deemed by the court. He is also seeking "temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctive relief, restraining and enjoining Defendants, their agents and all persons acting in concert with them" from continuing to insinuate he killed Mestre and to "remove them from the film."
Netflix declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Representatives for Rosenthal and Nolita Cinéma did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
Rosenthal, however, told Variety in an interview that No Limit was vetted by lawyers before going into production, and that he doesn't think Ferreras has a case.
"This is a fictionalization of stories that were very much on the public eye — from documentaries to many articles and books about this," he said. "What I wrote is fiction, with fictional characters… I'm sure [Ferreras is] trying to make a buck here by suing Netflix."