Yusra Mardini: Mardini’s Instagram account
In 2015, Yusra Mardini and her sister Sara saved themselves and the fellow refugees on their dinghy by jumping into the freezing Aegean Sea and swimming the boat to safety. The Mardini sisters had fled Syria and were en route to the Greek island of Lesbos when the dinghy began to sink. Mardini’s story came to light when she swam at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and now it’s getting the big screen treatment. Deadline reports that Working Title Films
has acquired the rights to Mardini’s life story and is planning to develop it into a film.
According to the source, Stephen Daldry
”) will direct the project, while Working Title’s Tim Bevan
and Eric Fellner
will produce with Ali Jaafar
After surviving the journey from Syria, Yusra and Sara settled in Berlin. “Without any other family or friends, Mardini and Sara were forced to fend for themselves before Mardini met local swimming coach Sven Spannekrebs, who took her under his wing,” Deadline writes. “During the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, the [International Olympic Committee] 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.”
Since becoming an activist, Mardini has met with leaders like President Barack Obama
and Pope Francis
and delivered a series of keynote speeches at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
As xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments in the U.S. become more widespread and normalized, it’s vital that stories like Mardini’s are shared. The true story of a young woman trying to find a better life for herself and others, and becoming a hero along the way is inspiring in itself. But it’s especially important considering the United States’ shameful response — or lack thereof, really — to the refugee crisis. This film about Mardini has the potential to further galvanize the current resistance to Trumpian policy, inspire empathy in those who equate refugees with terrorism, and provide a much-needed wake-up call in the face to those who are indifferent or ignorant.
This certainly seems to be Daldry’s view: “I am thrilled to be involved in bringing Yusra’s extraordinary story to a wider audience through the medium of film,” he said. “Yusra reminds us of the human cost of the tragedy and the incredible fortitude, perseverance, and hope of one young woman who struggles for a future.”
“In a time of such uncertainty and fear, Yusra’s incredible story is a shining reminder that what binds us together is so much stronger than what keeps us apart,” Jaafar agreed. “At its heart, this is the story of someone who had a dream and was able to overcome the most immense obstacles to achieve it.”
Yusra Mardini will not be the first high-profile woman Daldry brings to the big screen. The director did the same with Virginia Woolf in “The Hours
,” and Queen Elizabeth II
in the play “The Audience
” as well as the Netflix series “The Crown
,” on which he serves as a producer. Daldry is set to direct the film adaptation of the musical “Wicked
.” Here’s hoping the team behind the Mardini project taps a talented female scribe to write the screenplay.
Film About Olympian Swimmer and Syrian Refugee Yusra Mardini in the Works was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.