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Freediver film controversy?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Well-Known Member
Oct 5, 2001
can someone who was at the screening explain further please?

it sounds as though Sebastian Nagel didn't like the way he (or AIDA?) was portrayed in the film and has decided to get his own back by using his power as AIDA president to disallow Alki's record attempts.

is that what really happened??

what was the film like?? better than the trailer? how was Nagel/AIDA(?) protrayed in the film?
This is a touchy subject!

The movie was very bad, to put it lightly, but there were problems other than that simple fact. It gives a highly inaccurate view of the sport (depicting the sport in a very bad light).

In fact, in real life, Kelly, one of the worlds volunteers on the barge who fell in love with the sport after watching the competition, said that if she had 'just seen the movie' she would have never wanted to dive EVER. Luckily she knew it was inaccurate.

Otherwise, apparently the movie uses the name AIDA and Sebastian without permission.

AIDA is shown as a corrupt organization composed of rich beaurocrats.

Sebastian is not portrayed especially badly in the film, but he is shown as being a part of everything else which is depicted badly.

In the movie, the divers never use lanyards, and at one point, Danai is depicted as sinking down beyond the bottom of the line, beyond the bottom scuba diver, perhaps as much as 20-25m below the line (70m), far out of visibility. Everyone hopes she comes back up and she does, but then blacks out and goes into cardiac arrest; she's airlifted out by helicopter and goes into a coma at the hospital. Later in the movie she suffers a blackout at the bottom at 367 feet (111m), and her trainer (through an underwater communication system), tells the bottom scuba divers NOT TO RESCUE Danai, because she would be disqualified. The scuba divers wait, hoping that Danai will wake up 'down there', and she does, and makes it back up without a blackout, but then suddenly dies a few minutes later. Shortly before, her rival Maggie makes a 300 foot (92m) record attempt and blacks out. In short, there are no successful dives in the movie. All dives result in either blackout or death.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
ah, i see...

using real names of people or organisations without permission is asking for trouble... especially if they are portrayed badly in the film!

having said that, i think it's a real shame that Herbert, Carlos and Martin should be denied the chance to set new records as a result of all this. the content of a film has no bearing on the safety or verification of these freediving record attempts!
The general consensus abound in conversations afterwards, was that the movie was consistent.

Consistent in having unrealistic, immature, and depthless characters.

Consistent in overdramatizing non-existent aspects of freediving.

Consistent at not including the real dramatic aspects of freediving (no sinking in dives, no effort expended to surface, no dive preparation, almost no sensation of being underwater, no atmosphere of the deep, etc...).

Personally, I didn't come out feeling the movie put one in touch with any aspects of freediving, whether real or not. All I can really remember is being made to pay attention to characters that should have been portrayed as 9 year olds. I have a hard time imagining a person above mid-teens or so, actually feeling like there was anything to take from this film.

Therefore it does not suggest to myself that there is any need for seriously expecting any negative consequence from its existence. To expect that an adult will actually take the freediving aspects more seriously than the plot and characters, is quite a stretch. I think lack of credibility is obvious.

This draws me to conclude that legal action is wasteful of organization funds, ineffective, unnecessary, and will end up being more harmful than helpful.
Oh and one other thing...

I did not understand the relation between the disapproval of the movie and the event?

Is not the organization behind the movie different from the organizer of the event? Sure there might be one person involved in both, but is he not independent of who is legally responsible for the movie and who probably had large push in the final portrayal of the movie? If they are independent, then it would be a personal prejudice to imply that one's ability at hosting an event is related to their artistic attempts.
Last night I brought up the following irony:

- BIOS is the company which developed the movie
- BIOS is the company which 'paid the bills' by sponsoring the 'BIOS Freediver Open Classic 2004' in Cyprus this year
- At one point, Howard Jones had decided not to invite AIDA judges to the BIOS Freediver Open Classic in Cyprus
- It was the primary sponsor, BIOS, which insisted that AIDA judges attend, so they did
- Now, after the president of AIDA saw the movie, the president of AIDA wants to sue BIOS, the same company which insisted upon having AIDA at their event


BIOS is also the company which is 'paying the bills' and sponsoring the Greece record event, which to my understanding involved Herbert, Martin and Fred Buyle. The AIDA site lists only Martin & Fred Buyle.

I think Sebastian's point is that he doesn't want BIOS associated with AIDA in any way, even with regards to sponsorship/organization of AIDA events.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Everybody who thinks there ought not be any consequences when somebody appropriates your property without your consent, please send me your address ! You won't mind if I help myself, will you ? I'm particularly interested in a plasma TV and in a nice car - mine are really crap.

Thanking you in advance for your generosity .....
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I wonder, does anyone think that the "Big Blue" was a realistic portrayal of competitive freediving?
In the movie after Enzo blacked out he came too, but yet he was still dying for some weird reason.... And then Jacques pushed him back into the water and he drowned. Then at the end Jacques took the sled to the bottom to meet the mermaids. I wonder did CMAS try to sue Luc Besson ?

It's just a movie if they made an accurate movie on competitive freediving, well it may be too boring. Having said that the new movie does sound a lot worse then I thought, so I can understand some people getting annoyed. But how many people really take movies seriously ?

I don't think that Luc Besson was sued by CMAS, but the film was boycotted in Italy and was released for the first time in 2002!!
[The Big Blue] was boycotted in Italy and was released for the first time in 2002!!

I think the reason for this was that Enzo Maïorca was quite angry with Jean Reno's Enzo Molinari character, that he thought it was a total muckup, and somehow whole of Italy boycotted the film. With the stuff I've read about Mayol and Maïorca later, I don't think I blame him.

AIDA is shown as a corrupt organization composed of rich beaurocrats.

That's a direct error right there. If AIDA is anything, they're poor bureaucrats... :t

Chris Engelbrecht, Copenhagen
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using names and characters without permission isn t a good thing and probably causes problems.

but then again: cancelling world records for personal reasons would show, that that organisation works in a corrupt beuraucratic way, where personal reasons are more important than the sport.

Dont cancel the record attempt of Herbert, Martin and Carlos, since they have nothing to do with the movie.

To all the movie producers out there; why not produce a movie which shows the beauty of freediving, and not the drama/blackout/death aspect ?
Just a clarification folks. AIDA can't actually cancel an attempt, all they can do is withdraw their ratification for it.
This whole situation sounds bad. The movie sounds terrible, but the actions taken seem questionable as well. I can’t help but feel something has not gone through the proper channels here. Such major decisions as withdrawing ratification of a major freediving event, that features the current three biggest male stars of the AIDA, and the instruction of lawyers to pursue legal action, doesn’t sound like decisions that are to be made by a single person in a democratic organization. Even if they do have the power to do such things, I would think most leaders would want to involve other elected members who represent the various countries and athletes in the decision. In this case the AIDA board seems appropriate.

Maybe they were involved, and if so great - please report it. So far though it sounds like one person making these decisions, which just seems wrong to me.
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Regardless of AIDA ratification or not.

If one of the athletes will be able to set a new record - for sure there will be good judges too - it will be accepted and respected by the freediving community.

At least I don't need AIDA for this :D :D

For every legit freediver it was also clear that Topi L. was the owner of the unassisted record before AIDA jumped the wagon. Only some complete fools (e.g. the infamous BO Redl) ignored the obvious facts.
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I was also at the premier. It certainly generated howls of laughter from all those in attendance but I don't think that was the intent of the producer.
It is hard to believe that someone who knows anything about freediving at all, could conciously make such drivel.
I believe that Sebastien's reaction was of the heat of the moment because he simply couldn't believe what he had just seen.
I don't think the record attempts will be cancelled or un-recognized simply because the organizer produced a crappy film.
I could be wrong.
As an aside, the streaming video produced by Goh Iromoto was presented beforehand and recieved a wild standing ovation.
The German team also presented an incredible 40 minute film of their freediving trip to Norway with the orcas.
They are at least two film producers to watch in the future for realistic and exciting portrayals of freediving.
Matt Charlton
Matt, or anyone who has seen the film:

Quote from the DB article: "Nagel cited AIDA regulations specifying that the organizer of a sanctioned event must reliably comply with AIDA safety standards, and that based upon what the film depicted, Alki David, in his judgement, does not."

Do scenes in 'Freediver' support such a statement? I mean, is there anything that indicates that the BIOS team, Alki David, what ever, are fooling around with the safety issues (like the Pipin team, etc.)?

Chris Engelbrecht, Copenhagen

If you read my description of the movie, you will find several obvious unsafe practices, including:

- No lanyard for the athlete, allowing the athlete in the movie to sink 20-25m past the bottom of the descent line into infinite blackness, beyond the last safety diver

- Allowing the athlete to dive despite her having a serious heart condition and no clean bill of medical health (resulting in a seizure at 111m)

- The coach telling the bottom scuba divers NOT TO RESCUE the athlete at 111m during the seizure, because touching the athlete would disqualify her

- No safety freedivers to meet the athlete on the ascent (only safety scuba divers)

- No safety personal around the athlete during an 8'23" static record (just spectators and personel 10m away on the edge of the pool)

- The protagonist girl dives to at least 30m to retrieve an object from the ocean floor (without fins) with no safety or buddy of any kind


Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Supposedly, Sebastien was saying that AIDA ratification for the event will proceed now.
Man, I love this discussion!

Uh, Eric, are you comparing what is happening in a fictional movie with how someone would run an event in real life? It wouldn't be the first time someone made this error. Apparently Sebastian just made the same error too!

Didn't Bios just sponsor a competition in Cyprus in which three world records fell? I didn’t hear any safety complaints from that one.

Could I submit that if we all watched Le Grande Blue for the first time now, we would also think it was a load of drivel? "Jean, put me back in the water."!? I can't really see that happening in a competition.

Its called drama guys; who wants to see a lanyard in a movie? How can anyone actually compare how a competition or record event is run to how a movie is made? You know, those people in the movie didn't really die or blackout. It was all just pretend.

I am sure Alki is loving the controversy. If it gets coverage, it is good news for a movie producer.

Just my thoughts. I would love to hear others.


At no time did I ever imply that what occurs in the movie is an indicator of how BIOS might run a freediving event. Please revoke your accusation.

Chris simply asked someone to list off things in the movie which involved unsafe 'portrayals' of the sport.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
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