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The Swimmers directed by Sally El Hosaini opens Toronto International Film Festival
The Swimmers directed by Sally El Hosaini

The European Premiere of Sally El Hosaini’s drama The Swimmers based on the inspirational true-life story of the Mardini sisters’ will open the 18th Zurich Film Festival on September 22, 2022.

Based on a true story, following the journey from war-torn Syria to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Two young sisters embark on a harrowing journey as refugees, putting both their hearts and champion swimming skills to heroic use.

Sally El Hosaini says “I’m thrilled that the extraordinary true life story of the Mardini sisters will open the 18th Zurich Film Festival as our European premiere. Never has there been such an important time for Europeans to see a film that elevates the visibility of refugees and honours those who risk their lives to have a better, safer life.”

The Swimmers follows the journey made by sisters Yusra and Sara Mardini. In 2015, after their house was destroyed in the Syrian Civil War, the sisters fled the country as refugees. They made their way to Lebanon and then Turkey, where they arranged to be smuggled into Greece by dinghy. In the middle of the Aegean Sea, the motor of the dinghy, overcrowded with refugees, cut out, the sisters and others who could swim, ensured the safety of the passengers. They went on to settle in Germany, with Yusra taking up training again with coach Sven Spannenkrebs and going on to compete at the 2016 Olympics as part of the Refugee Olympic Team.

Starring Nathalie Issa, Manal Issa, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ahmed Malek, James Krishna Floyd, Elmi Rashid Elmi, Kinda Alloush and Ali Suliman. Directed and written by Sally El Hosaini and co-written by multi-award-winning screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne. The film will be out on Netflix later this year.

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