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From refugee to Olympian: Inside Netflix biopic ‘The Swimmers’

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New biographical drama The Swimmers follows the story of Yusra Mardini (Nathalie Issa) and her sister Sara (Manal Issa), who escape their war-torn nation by swimming for hours throughout the Mediterranean to hunt asylum in Greece.

The sisters had been skilled by their father in Syria, and upon reaching Germany as refugees, the pair was coached by Sven Spannekrebs (Matthias Schweighöfer).

Champion swimmer Yusra Mardini was profoundly moved by the film retelling of her epic journey from war-torn Syria to Germany, after which on to Olympic glory in 2016.

“After I did what I did and I left my nation or set a purpose to go to the Olympics, I by no means thought that it’ll find yourself like that, so it’s loopy. I am making an attempt to take all of it in,” says Mardini.

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Yusra, who’s a UNHCR goodwill ambassador for refugees, has a cameo in The Swimmers in a handful of technical swimming scenes.

“I doubled for myself – properly, I doubled for Nathalie (Issa) that performed me. So on set, they known as me ‘Yusra quantity two’ and I used to be like, ‘No, no, I am the unique one,'” smiled the 24-year-old, who now lives in Hamburg.

The Netflix film is directed and co-written by Sally El Hosaini, who first heard about Yusra Mardini when she made headlines across the globe.

“I used to be simply captivated and fascinated as a result of the movie wasn’t nearly one hero – it was about an unsung hero as properly, and about that sister relationship and dynamic,” she says. “I noticed in that this chance to placed on the display screen the varieties of younger, fashionable, liberal Arab ladies who by no means seem in cinema. So there was this chance there to characterize Arab ladies in a method they hadn’t been represented in earlier than.”

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El Hosaini (My Brother the Satan, Babylon) made some extent to solid refugees within the movie and behind the scenes. 

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“So there was an actual sense of significance to what we had been doing, and we actually strove for essentially the most authenticity that we might get,” shares El Hosaini. “For instance, once we had been filming the dinghy scenes, we actually did put a dinghy on the Aegean Sea on the identical shoreline the place dinghies are crossing.”

The Swimmers relies on Yusra’s autobiography “Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian — My Story of Rescue, Hope, and Triumph”. It is accessible on Netflix now.

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