Lebanese actresses and real-life sisters, Manal and Nathalie Issa have been cast to play real-life sisters Yusra and Sarah Mardini in Netflix and Working Title’s new drama The Swimmer.
The film, which Welsh/Egyptian filmmaker Sally El Hosaini (My Brother the Devil) is directing, traces the incredible journey of the Mardini sisters who escaped war-torn Syria, dragging a dinghy of refugees to safety across the Aegean Sea, and made it all the way to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
El Hosaini co-wrote the script to The Swimmers with Enola Holmes scribe Jack Thorne. The Swimmers is set to begin production this week in the U.K. with further shooting planned in Belgium and Turkey. Netflix is producing with Working Title in the U.K.
The Swimmers will go out on Netflix worldwide in 2022. Working Title’s Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan are producing the film with Ali Jaafar and Tim Cole. Oscar-nominated director Stephen Daldry (The Reader, Billy Elliot) is an executive producer on the project.
Alongside the Issa sisters, the cast of The Swimmers includes Ahmed Malek, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ali Suliman, Kinda Alloush, James Krishna Floyd, and Elmi Rashid Elmi.
El Hosaini has been a rising star since her directing debut My Brother the Devil premiered at Sundance Film Festival, winning the World Cinema Cinematography: Dramatic prize and going on to take the Best British Newcomer honor for star El Hosaini at the London Film Festival and Best European Film at Berlinale.