What do you do when you are parents, and your daughters want to embark on a perilous journey in order to have a future?
This is a film recommendation: The Swimmers tells a true story, of sisters Sara and Yusra Mardini, who were normal teenagers in Damascus, training to be professional swimmers. They left Syria because bombs started falling, and practically ‘swam’ to Greece.
This is the story of their journey; eventually Yusra fulfilled her ambition to swim at both the Rio and Tokyo Olympics. As for Sara, her story is ongoing—but I will leave you to discover it for yourselves.
I had followed the sisters’ saga via The Worldwide Tribe Instagram feed and Podcasts. You can listen to an interview with Sara, here.(highly recommended)
Often biopics can ring false, striving for a heroic bias, but I found this well done, and the actors are excellent. The two are played by real life sisters Nathalie and Manal Issa, which gets the sibling chemistry across really well. The film has its flaws, depending on different points of view—for example, it annoyed some people that the actors spoke mostly in English instead of Arabic—but I thought it gave a good insight into the wider humanitarian crisis facing migrants, and what it means to be labelled a refugee.
It is also a story of family, determination, guts, human frailty—and never giving up on your dreams.
Here is a trailer.
Footnote: See what you think about the traffickers—they are the villains in this story.