My Brother The Devil director Sally El Hosaini is to direct Working Title’s forthcoming Yusra Mardini biopic, which now has the working title The Swimmers. El Hosaini has replaced Stephen Daldry, who is staying on as an exec producer.
The film tells the story of Syrian swimmer Mardini, the teenage Olympian refugee who dragged a dinghy of refugees to safety across the Aegean Sea.
Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner’s firm optioned the life story last year with Kiri creator Jack Thorne, who is also working on Netflix musical drama The Eddy with La La Land director Damien Chazelle, writing the script.
The project is currently out to casting. El Hosaini broke out with 2013 British crime film My Brother The Devil, which picked up a slew of awards, and she has directed episodes of Danny Boyle’s Channel 4 drama Babylon.
The film will tell the true story of Mardini, who grew up in Syria but fled with her sister in 2015, traveling to Europe. While on a boat with other refugees looking to flee to the Greek island of Lesbos, the boat began to sink, endangering the lives of all on board. Using their swimming skills, the two sisters heroically jumped into the sea and pushed the boat for more than three hours through the freezing waters to safety.
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Following this, the pair moved to Berlin and Mardini met local swimming coach Sven Spannekrebs, who took her under his wing. During the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, the IOC launched for the first time ever a Team Refugee. Against the odds, Mardini made it to the Olympics and won her qualifying heat during the games. Since then, she’s become an impassioned champion and ambassador for refugees across the world meeting world leaders such as President Barak Obama and the Pope and delivering a series of keynote speeches at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Working Title’s Bevan and Fellner are producing alongside The Idol producer Ali Jaafar with Daldrey exec producing.
El Hosaini is repped by Sayle Screen and Anonymous Content.
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