The Swimmers: TIFF Sets Netflix Movie As Opening Night Gala Presentation

Sally El Hosaini’s Netflix movie The Swimmers will be making its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival as the opening night film on Sept. 8 at Roy Thomson Hall.

The pic, based on a true story, follows the journey of two young sisters who fled war-torn Syria as refugees and made their way to the 2016 Rio Olympics to compete in swimming.

Deadline told you yesterday that CAA signed El Hosaini.

“I was deeply moved by the story of these two sisters and wowed by the storytelling,” said TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey. “The Swimmers was the very best kind of surprise when we saw it 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 honor everyone who risks everything to reach a better, safer life.”

“I’m ecstatic. What an honor and privilege to open TIFF with the inspirational true-life story of the Mardini sisters,” said The Swimmers’ director El Hosaini. “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.”

Swimmers stars Manal Issa, Nathalie Issa, Ahmed Malek, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ali Suliman, Kinda Alloush, James Krishna Floyd, and Elmi Rashid Elmi. El Hosaini directed off a screenplay she co-wrote with multi-award-winning screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne. The movie is produced by Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner alongside Ali Jaafar and Tim Cole with Stephen Daldry executive producing.

The 47th TIFF will run from Sept. 8-18. The festival is expected to announce its first line-up wave tomorrow. With Swimmers, TIFF currently counts nine world premieres including Rian Johnson’s Knives Out sequel, Billy Eichner’s Bros, Clement Virgo’s Brother, On the Come Up from Sanaa Lathan, the Harry Styles pic My Policeman,  Viola Davis starrer The Woman King, Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, and Lena Dunham’s Catherine Called Birdy. 

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