Arab director Sally El-Hosaini’s ‘The Swimmers’ will open the Toronto Film Festival
DUBAI: Egyptian-Welsh director Sally El-Hosaini’s drama ‘The Swimmers’ is due to open the Toronto Film Festival on September 8, which will also mark the film’s world premiere.
The work is based on the true story of Syrian refugees Sarah and Yusra Mardini who fled their war-torn country by boat and had to swim part of the way to keep the ship moving. Yusra competed as a member of the refugee Olympic athlete contingent at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.
In a statement, festival CEO Cameron Bailey said: “I was deeply moved by the story of these two sisters and impressed by the storytelling. “The Swimmers” was the best surprise when we saw it this summer – an exciting, epic journey and the arrival of an important filmmaker.
“I am thrilled that audiences in Toronto will be the first to experience Sally El-Hosaini’s remarkable film, and that this year, on our opening night, we can honor all those who risk everything to achieve a better life and safer,” added Bailey.
Lebanese actresses and real-life sisters Manal and Nathalie Issa will portray Yusra and Sarah in the upcoming film.
They will be joined by Arab-Israeli actor Ali Suliman, Egyptian actor Ahmed Malek, Syrian actress Kinda Alloush and ‘The Good Karma Hospital’ star James Krishna Floyd, who starred in El’s latest film. -Hosaini “My Brother the Devil”, which won the World Cinema Cinematography award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
German actor Matthias Schweighöfer and YouTube star Elmi Rashid Elmi round out the cast.
The film is produced by Eric and Tim Bevan, Ali Jaafar and Tim Cole of Netflix and Working Title.
“The Swimmers”, filmed in the UK, Turkey and Belgium, is set to be released worldwide on Netflix this year.
The Toronto Film Festival line-up, which runs September 8-18, includes American actress Viola Davis’ historical epic ‘The Woman King’, American actor Billy Eichner’s romantic comedy ‘Bros’ and “Glass Onion: A Mystery at Daggers Drawn.