Sally El Hosaini’s The Swimmers Opens Toronto Festival Before Hitting Netflix

27 July 2022

A true survival story of two sisters amid the high sea shall open the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival that is witnessing the world premiere of THE SWIMMERS, by Sally El Hosaini, on September 8th. This comes before the film hits Netflix, starring an A-list cast of Arab actors, including Manal Issa, Nathalie Issa, Ahmed Malek, Ali Suliman & Kinda Alloush.

“I was deeply moved by the story of these two sisters and wowed by the storytelling. The Swimmers will be the best kind of surprise when screening 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.” said Cameron Bailey, CEO of TIFF, while revealing the film’s participation at the festival last Wednesday. 

Based on a true story, the two Lebanese sisters Manal Issa and Nathalie Issa present a journey from war-torn Syria to the 2016 Rio Olympics, where the two young sisters Yousra and Sarah Mardini embark on a harrowing journey as refugees, putting both their hearts and champion swimming skills to heroic use. The film is co-written by Sally El Hosaini and Jack Thorne (Enola Holmes).

“I’m ecstatic. What an honour and privilege to open TIFF with the inspirational true-life story of the Mardini sisters. 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.” commented THE SWIMMERS’ director El Hosaini on selecting her film to open the festival at Roy Thomson Hall.

Alongside the two sisters Manal Issa and Nathalie Issa, the film stars Egyptian actor Ahmed Malek, German actor Matthias Schweighöfer, Palestinian actor Ali Suliman, Syrian actress Kinda Alloush, as well as Krishna Floyd, and Elmi Rashid Elmi. Shot in the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Belgium, the film is Produced by Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner alongside Ali Jaafar and Tim Cole with Stephen Daldry executive producing. The film is scheduled to stream on Netflix during 2022.

THE SWIMMERS marks Egyptian director’s Sally El Hosaini second feature, where her debut feature MY BROTHER THE DEVIL landed its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival in 2012, and won several awards at BFI London Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, and BAFTA Film Awards.

The 47th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival - TIFF shall take place from 8th to 18th of September, marking the first in-person attendance of audience and Hollywood stars at the screening halls and the red carpet, after two virtual editions due to Coronavirus.