Screen Scene – The Swimmers: A True Story of Courage and Resilience

by Tabatha Golat –

Being the middle child of five girls, I’ve always had a soft spot for films that authentically capture the complexities of sibling relationships. This month’s cinematic recommendation, The Swimmers, immediately drew me in with its opening scene – a heartfelt portrayal of two sisters playfully submerging each other in a bustling pool. Little did I know that that seemingly innocent moment would pave the way for a poignant and harrowing journey as the sisters embark on a desperate quest to save themselves and their family from the ravages of war-torn Syria.

The Swimmers
is a 2022 biographical sports drama that tackles the true story of professional swimming sisters and Syrian refugees, Yusra and Sarah Mardini, whose incredible courage and resilience will leave you deeply moved. Directed by Sally El Hosaini, and co-written with Jack Thorne, The Swimmers stars real-life sisters Nathalie Issa and Manal Issa. Following its world premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, The Swimmers is now available for streaming on Netflix.

The film chronicles the extraordinary journey of two Syrian teenagers, Yusra and Sarah Mardini, whose lives are turned upside down by the relentless conflict in their homeland. Despite the odds, they hold onto their dream of representing Syria in swimming at the Olympics. After fleeing Syria, they find themselves on a refugee-filled dinghy in the Aegean Sea, where they bravely save the other refugees’ lives by pulling the boat through rough waters, nearly drowning.

Their path leads them to a refugee camp in Berlin, but Yusra’s determination never wavers. Ultimately, she fulfills her Olympic dream as a member of the Refugee Olympic Team at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

The film is an exploration of not just the injustices of war but also the bureaucratic challenges that refugees face. It highlights the indomitable human spirit in the face of adversity, with a charming undercurrent of sisterly rivalry that never cuts too deep. Sally El Hosaini’s direction is emotionally charged, perfectly complementing the powerful narrative. The performances, especially by Nathalie Issa and Manal Issa, are heartfelt and authentic, immersing the audience in the sisters’ journey.

If you’re looking for a film that will move and inspire you, The Swimmers is a must-watch. Although the film does have a few moments of maudlin music and on-the-nose storytelling, the flaws are few, and forgivable. Dive into this extraordinary story of courage – you won’t be disappointed.

Interested in other movies that touch the heart and soul? Consider these recommendations for your viewing queue:
1. Children of Men, Apple TV
2. District 9, Prime Video
3. 127 Hours, Disney Plus
4. Slumdog Millionaire, Crave

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