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Director Sally El Hosaini on Showcasing the Refugee Experience in ‘The Swimmers’

The Swimmers. (L to R) Elmi Rashid Elmi as Bilal, Ahmed Malek as Nizar, Nathalie Issa as Yusra Mardini, Nahel Tzegai as Shada, Manal Issa as Sara Mardini, James Krishna Floyd as Emad in The Swimmers. Cr. Laura Radford/Netflix © 2022

The Swimmers is the powerful and visceral story of real life Syrian sisters Yusra and Sara Mardini and their journey from war-torn Syria to Germany, and Yusra’s entry into the 2016 Rio Olympics. Groundbreaking in its showcasing of a refugee story, the film takes viewers on a journey through the Mediterranean and Europe, showcasing their various trials and tribulations as the strive forward to achieve their dream.

We were lucky enough to speak with the director of the film, Sally El Hosaini, ahead of the film’s limited release in US theaters this Friday. El Hosaini explains the involvement of the real life Mardini sisters in the filmmaking process, the importance of showcasing the refugee story that is only one out of countless still in the world today, how she approached filming the swimming scenes, and much more.

The Swimmers will debut in select US theaters November 11 and on Netflix November 23.

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