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TIFF Opening Night Gala Announced As ‘The Swimmers’

As the Toronto International Film Festival draws ever closer, more and more news will be coming out about what will be playing at the fest. The Opening Night Gala for Toronto is always a notable one, as TIFF tends to try to go with a high profile title in that slot. Now, we can report to you that The Swimmers is what the festival is putting in that coveted spot.

The Swimmers comes from Working Title and Netflix, with Sally El Hosaini directing and co-writing with Jack Thorne. The film follows the journey from war-torn Syria to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Debuting on September 8th, it’ll kick off the festival with a bang.

Here is the press release from TIFF:

TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey announced today that the World Premiere of The Swimmers will be the Opening Night Gala Presentation for the 47th Toronto International Film Festival®  on Thursday, September 8, at Roy Thomson Hall.

“I was deeply moved by the story of these two sisters and wowed by the storytelling,” said Bailey. “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 The Swimmers director 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.”

Based on a true story, The Swimmers follows the journey from war-torn Syria to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Two young sisters embark on a harrowing journey as refugees, putting both their hearts and champion swimming skills to heroic use.

Starring Manal Issa, Nathalie Issa, Ahmed Malek, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ali Suliman, Kinda Alloush, James Krishna Floyd, and Elmi Rashid Elmi. Directed by Sally El Hosaini, with a screenplay written by El Hosaini and multi-award-winning screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne. Produced by Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner alongside Ali Jaafar and Tim Cole with Stephen Daldry executive producing. 

Source: Press Release


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Written by Steven Prusakowski

Steven Prusakowski has been a cinephile as far back as he can remember, literally. At the age of ten, while other kids his age were sleeping, he was up into the late hours of the night watching the Oscars. Since then, his passion for film, television, and awards has only grown. For over a decade he has reviewed and written about entertainment through publications including Awards Circuit and Screen Radar. He has conducted interviews with some of the best in the business - learning more about them, their projects and their crafts. He is a graduate of the RIT film program. You can find him on Twitter and Letterboxd as @FilmSnork – we don’t know why the name, but he seems to be sticking to it.

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