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A Netflix Film on Syrian Refugees-Turned-Olympians Yusra and Sarah Mardini is in the Works

Sarah and Yusra Mardini. Photo: Getty Images

Production has begun on a new Netflix film based on the true story of Yusra and Sarah Mardini, the Syrian refugees turned Olympic swimmers. Titled The Swimmers, the film is being created by the streaming giant with Egyptian-Welsh director and screenwriter Sally El Hosaini.

The Swimmers  depicts the journey of the Mardini sisters, who almost drowned as they left their home country Syria to flee war.  After making their way to Lebanon, and then Turkey, they were arranged to be smuggled into Greece in an overcrowded dinghy that suffered an engine failure amidst the Aegean Sea. The sisters swam for three and half hours to stop the boat from capsizing, ensuring the safety of everyone else on the dinghy. In 2016, Yusra Mardini competed in swimming events at the 2016 Olympics as part of the Refugee Olympic Team.


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Playing the two heroic sisters in the film are also two Lebanese sisters, Manal and Nathalie Issa. They will be joined by Egyptian actor Ahmed Malek, Syrian actor, Kinda Alloush, British actor James Krishna Floyd who previously starred in El Hosaini’s last film, My Brother the Devil, Ali Suliman, Elmi Rashid Elmi, and Matthias Schweighofer.

El Hosaini is writing the script alongside Bafta winner, Jack Throne who wrote Netflix’s Enola Holmes and co-wrote Harry Potter and the Cursed Child with JK Rowling. The Egyptian-Welsh director and screenwriter previously won the World Cinema Cinematography Dramatic Prize at Sundance for her film My Brother the Devil. She also secured the Best British Newcomer Prize at the BFI London Film Festival and Best European Film at Berlinale.

The Swimmers will be shot between the UK, Belgium, and Turkey, and is set to be released on Netflix globally in 2022.

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