Heroic tale of Syrian refugee-olympian makes it to Hollywood

Heroic tale of Syrian refugee-olympian makes it to Hollywood
The story of teenage refugee Yusra Mardini who fled Syria and went on to compete at the Rio Olympics is being turned into a film for the big screen.
2 min read
17 March, 2017
The film will be based on the true story of Yusra Mardini [AFP]
A British film company has agreed to buy the rights to the story of a teenage refugee who fled Syria and swam at the Olympics a year later.

Working Title Films is set to turn the story of Yusra Mardini and her sister Sara into a film award-winning director Stephen Daldry, who directed Billy Elliot and The Reader.

The film will be based on the true story of Mardini, the Syrian refugee who made headlines when the tale of her heroism came to light last year.

In 2015, a then 18-year-old Mardini fled her home town with her sister, and began their perilous journey across the Mediterranean.

After the engine in their flimsy boat failed, Yusra and her sister took to the dark waters of the Mediterranean and pulled the boat for more than three hours across the sea, bringing it to safety in Greece.

Later settling in Berlin, without friends or family, Mardini was discovered by a local swimming coach, and later picked to join the Olympics' first ever refugee team, to compete at the summer games in Rio.

 "It's rare to find a story whose truth makes it emotionally more powerful than fiction can ever be," said Working Title co-chairman Eric Fellner.

"The physical, spiritual and geographical journey that Yusra and Sara undertook is quite unbelievable.

"They made an extraordinary journey across Europe, and the one skill she [Yusra] has - swimming - was what saved her life."

Fellner said he likes it "when films humanise taboos".

"Refugees are normal people without homes. This is just a great story about a kid with an ambition, just like Billy Elliot."

The film is expected to open next year.