Making its European premiere, Sally El Hosaini’s The Swimmers has been set as the opening film of the 18th Zurich Film Festival. Based on the inspirational true-life story of the Mardini sisters, it will screen on September 22 at Zurich’s Convention Center. It will earlier world premiere as the opening night gala presentation in Toronto.
The Working Title film for Netflix is directed and written by El Hosaini and co-written by Jack Thorne. It follows the harrowing journey of two young sisters from war-torn Syria to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“The Swimmers is a deeply moving and timely film about a miraculous journey,” says ZFF Artistic Director Christian Jungen. “It shines a light on the refugee crisis, but is also up-lifting and inspiring. We couldn’t imagine a better opening night film. Sally El Hosaini, who already with her first feature My Brother The Devil won an award at Sundance, is among the most talented new voices in auteur cinema.”
Adds the filmmaker, “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 honors those who risk their lives to have a better, safer life.”
Starring Nathalie Issa, Manal Issa, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ahmed Malek, James Krishna Floyd, Elmi Rashid Elmi, Kinda Alloush and Ali Suliman, the film is produced by Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner alongside Ali Jaafar and Tim Cole with Stephen Daldry executive producing.
El Hosaini will be joined by Nathalie Issa and Schweighöfer, along with Sara and Yusra Mardini and swimming coach Sven Spannenkrebs at the film’s European premiere. Netflix will release later this year.
Zurich runs from September 22-October 2.