Netflix to produce documentary on Syrian refugees turned Olympic swimmers

Ahram Online , Saturday 24 Apr 2021

The documentary will feature Manal and Nathalie Issa depicting Syrian sisters Yusra and Sarah Mardini, alongside Egyptian actor Ahmed Malek, Syrian actor Kinda Alloush, and others

The Swimmers
Actress Manal Issa (L) and director Sally El Hosaini (R)

The streaming service Netflix has announced it is working on a new documentary with a working title The Swimmers on two Syrian refugees who turned Olympic swimmers , which is set for release in 2022.

The documentary tells the story of the two Syrian sisters, Yusra and Sarah Mardini, who had fled the Syrian civil war in 2015 before turning Olympics swimmers.

The two sisters escaped towards Lebanon, then continued to Turkey, and then through the Mediterranean to Greece. It is in the final segment of the trip that their inflatable boat's engine broke down jeopardising lives of countless migrants.

Daughters of a Syrian swimming coach, the sisters swam for hours while making sure that the boat with other migrants stayed afloat.

The journey took them to Macedonia, Hungary and finally Germany where they attracted media attention.

In Berlin, Yusra Mardini joined the swimming club Wasserfreunde Spandau 04 and participated in the new refugee team that was to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (2016). She is currently an ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency.

The Mardini sisters are also portrayed by siblings, French-Lebanese actresses Manal and Nathalie Issa.

The documentary includes a cast of well known actors from the Arab world and international names: Ahmed Malek (Egypt), Kinda Alloush (Syria), James Krishna Floyd (UK), Nahel Tzegai (UK, Saudi-Arabia born), Elmi Rashid Elmi (UK, Somali origins), Matthias Schweighofer (Germany), among others.

The film is directed by Welsh-Egyptian filmmaker, Sally El-Hosaini, known for My Brother the Devil (2012) her highly acclaimed feature for which she won several awards at Sundance, Berlin and London Film Festivals. She also directed Green Zone (2010) and The Fifth Bowl (2008) which brought her a regional (Welsh) BAFTA award. 

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