Francisco "Pipin" Ferreras has filed a lawsuit against Netflix for the movie No Limit, which he claims wrongly blames him for his wife's death.
Streaming service Netflix is facing legal trouble over a film about free divers. Variety reports that Francisco “Pipin” Ferreras is suing Netflix over the movie No Limit, a fictionalized version of events involving him and his wife, Audrey Mestre. The lawsuit claims Netflix strongly implied that Ferreras was responsible for his wife’s death.
Audrey Mestre and Pipin Ferreras were celebrities in the free diving world. Free diving is an extreme sport where divers descend to great depths without oxygen. Consider it the first cousin of free climbing.
Mestre drowned during a dive gone wrong in the Dominican Republic 21 years ago. The air tank that was supposed to inflate her lift bag and bring her up had no air in it, and she drowned before anyone could get her to the surface.
Ferreras’ lawsuit alleges that Netflix portrayed him as a murderer and made it look like he was the one behind his wife’s accidental death. No Limit used the characters of “Pascal Gautier” and “Roxane Aubrey” as stand-ins for Ferreras and his wife. The Gautier character is depicted as a violent, cheating louse who purposely sabotaged Aubrey’s air tank after a confrontation.
The Netflix film adds insult to injury by switching at the end from the fictionalized versions of the divers to a title card with Mestre’s picture. The end card also includes a quick summary of the events surrounding her death, blurring the line between “fictionalized events” and drawing a connection between the make-believe death of Aubrey and the real death of Mestre.
“I don’t know how people can do something like that,” Ferreras said. “They [Netflix] turned the story around. They put it the way they wanted. That really hurt me.” While Netflix did include a disclaimer that the movie is a “work of fiction,” it also made sure to let the audience know No Limit was “Inspired by real events.”
Meanwhile, writer-director David M. Rosenthal claims the concept for the Netflix movie was vetted by lawyers before production even began. Rosenthal, when asked about the suit, doubled down on the “fictionalization” angle as a defense. “What I wrote is fiction, with fictional characters….” the director said before accusing Ferreras of just trying to “make a buck” by suing the streamer.
It’s worth noting that Ferreras’ lawyer Alexander Rufus-Isaacs has previously sued Netflix over the accuracy of The Queen’s Gambit and Inventing Anna. Unfortunately, these prior suits don’t do much to disprove Rosenthal’s claim that Ferraras is just doing this for the money.
Also working against Ferreras is the level of scrutiny his wife’s death has faced from other sources over the last 20+ years. ESPN released a documentary about the couple that was critical of Ferreras and called into question the level of safety put in place for the ill-fated dive. Even Ferreras’ former business partner Carlos Serra wrote a book alleging that Ferreras was at fault for his wife’s tragic death.
Ferreras himself, however, also wrote a book about the accident. Unsurprisingly, Ferreras’ book maintained his innocence, unlike the Netflix account, and instead placed the blame on faulty equipment and technical malfunctions. Ferreras has worked with both James Cameron and Jennifer Lawrence in an attempt to get his own film made about the tragedy.
Netflix has yet to release a statement regarding the suit.