Film partnerships News

Sally El Hosaini to direct Syrian Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini’s biopic

The film, produced by Working Title, is based on the true story of swimmer Yusra Mardini, who fled Syria with her sister in 2015 and picks up the pieces of her life with her passion to swim.

Welsh-Egyptian film director and screenwriter Sally El Hosaini will direct The Swimmers, a biopic that will highlight the story of Syrian Olympic champion Yusra Mardini.

The story follows Mardini and her sister who fled the war in Syria, travelling through Lebanon and Turkey before journeying to Greece by boat. When their boat’s motor failed, Mardini and her sister jumped into the sea and swam for three hours in open water. They pushed their dinghy to prevent it from capsizing saving the lives of 20 people. Eventually, the refugees arrived at the Greek island of Lesbos.

Mardini then made her way across Europe to Germany where she resumed her swimming coaching in Berlin. Soon after, she competed at Rio 2016 as part of the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team. She was catapulted on to the world’s stage and subsequently went on to address world leaders at the UN General Assembly and has been honoured with several awards.

After settling in Berlin, Mardini met a swimming coach who took her under his wing. When the International Olympic Committee launched a Team Refugee to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, she competed at the event and won the game.

Director El Hosaini’s biopic will highlight Mardini’s heroic journey. Shaheen Baig Casting will manage casting for the film. El Hosaini rose to prominence with her crime drama My Brother the Devil, which premiered at Sundance in 2012 and won the festival’s World Cinema Cinematography: Dramatic prize. Her film also won the Best British Newcomer prize at that year’s London Film festival.