The Swimmers

Source: Laura Radford/Netflix

The Swimmers

Netflix and Working Title’s refugee drama The Swimmers from Sally El Hosaini will open the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), marking the streamer’s second opening-night slot of the upcoming fall festival season.

El Hosaini, a Screen Star of Tomorrow 2009 who makes her long-awaited follow-up to 2012 drama My Brother The Devil, co-wrote the screenplay with Jack Thorne based on a true story about two young sisters on a harrowing journey from war-torn Syria to compete as swimmers at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Manal Issa, Nathalie Issa, Ahmed Malek, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ali Suliman, Kinda Alloush, James Krishna Floyd, and Elmi Rashid Elmi star. Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner produced alongside Ali Jaafar and Tim Cole with Stephen Daldry serving as executive producer.

Earlier in the week it emerged that Netflix’s Noah Baumbach drama White Noise will open Venice Film Festival.

Commenting on the choice of The Swimmers to open the festival, TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey said, “I was deeply moved by the story of these two sisters and wowed by the storytelling. 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 honour everyone who risks everything to reach a better, safer life.”

“I’m ecstatic. What an honour and privilege to open TIFF with the inspirational true-life story of the Mardini sisters,” said 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.”

Previously announced TIFF world premieres for the upcoming edition include Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, Viola Davis in The Woman King, Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and Lena Dunham’s adventure comedy Catherine Called Birdy. The 47th TIFF runs from September 8-18.