By Renu Mehta, Toronto:
Working Title and Netflix’s deeply moving film, directed and written by Sally El Hosaini and co-written by multi-award-winner Jack Thorne, follows the journey from war-torn Syria to the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Swimmers will open the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, September 8 at Roy Thomson Hall.
“I was deeply moved by the story of these two sisters and wowed by the storytelling,” said Cameron Bailey, CEO of TIFF. “The Swimmers was the very best kind of surprise when we saw it this summer — an exciting, epic journey and the arrival of an important filmmaker. I’m thrilled that audiences in Toronto will be the first to discover Sally El Hosaini’s remarkable film, and that this year on our Opening Night we can honour everyone who risks everything to reach a better, safer life.”
Based on a true story, The Swimmers follows 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. Starring Manal Issa, Nathalie Issa, Ahmed Malek, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ali Suliman, Kinda Alloush, James Krishna Floyd, and Elmi Rashid Elmi. Directed by Sally El Hosaini, with a screenplay written by El Hosaini and multi-award-winning screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne. Produced by Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner alongside Ali Jaafar and Tim Cole with Stephen Daldry executive producing.
“I’m ecstatic. What an honour and privilege to open TIFF with the inspirational true-life story of the Mardini sisters,” said director El Hosaini. “A city as multicultural and diverse as Toronto is the perfect place to debut our film that elevates the visibility and voice of refugees, reminding us that the human capacity to survive is stronger than most of us know.”