THE SWIMMERS is a saga of grit and determination arising out of a desire to escape the conflict zone of Syria by two sisters and pursue the passions of their lie. The topic chosen is contextual- the aspiration of citizens caught in zones of conflict to try to escape it and have a meaningful life without a morbid fear of looming death in myriad formats looming over the shoulders.
Sportspersons have the burning desire continuously simmering below their skins, to make a mark of their prowess in their chosen fields and announce their arrival through a public arena and create a spectacle. THE SWIMMERS is a gritty tale of two sisters Yusra Mardini and Sara Mardini, enacted by two real life sisters- Natahie Issa and Manal Issa, who try and escape the conflict zone of war in their backyard in Syria and arrive in Germany to aspire to lead a normal life by leveraging their natural born talent in swimming.
Tales of migration from zones of conflicts to an area, which can create an opportunity to lead a normal life, has been a favourite subject of the filmmakers internationally. The stories that use the idiom of conflict generally focuses on the ravages of war and displacement and an attempt to place oneself once again, and THE SWIMMERS is another addition to this genre. It was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2022 and was shown at the gala of Marrakesh International Film Festival as well. Directed by Sally L Hossani and co-written along with Jack Thorne- multi award winning screen writer, it is a poignant saga of survival against odds.
Poignancy of the subject is subtly highlighted during the flight announcement that the lifeboats below the seat belts are not to be taken away, else the passenger may be prosecuted, underlines the water incursion that the passengers on such flight are embarking after taking such flights from Syria to land in Turkey and they may not have luxury of life jackets to facilitate them!
After landing in Turkey, the test of endurance and survival instinct starts, where the touts just push the migrants on to pneumatic boats and leave them at the mercy of water as also the coast guards of the hostile nations. Another ironical visual that THE SWIMMERs has created is to visually capture huge number of life jackets spewed around the Aegean Sea coast left by scores of migrants who have managed to land on the shore and can afford to shed one of the baggage from their shoulders. Poignancy of struggle of the migrants is manifest in their struggle to find few drops of water to wet their parched lips and the hostility of the natives in not offering them that basic modes of survival and sustenance but closing the doors on their face.
THE SWIMMERS has also subtly highlighted development of an industry of so-called facilitators to who are in a position to facilitate crossing of borders and the inherent risk of young girls like the Mardini sisters falling prey to sexual predators. Poignantly Yusra Mardini shares the trauma of a sexual attack with her sister and also expresses the helpless in her inability to save herself again, if such an ordeal raises the head again!
THE SWIMMERS is a celebration of sisterhood, bonding of sisters, cinematically – a theme that has emotional appeal in India, but it is perhaps for the first time that this sisterhood is the edifice on which a film is built in a long run in the arena of World Cinema. Normally it is brotherhood, which is celebrated cinematically and not sisterhood, but one hopes that THE SWIMMERS has raised the bar and more such stories would come out in the public realm cinematically.
THE SWIMMERS underlines the aspiration of parents who desire that their children succeed in an arena of sports and use it as a channel vehicle to try and escape from a zone of conflict and venture into a zone of unknown using their expertise of sports. USP of THE SWIMMERS lies in the fact that a bunch of migrants, who had the courage to venture illegally into an unknown realm, only backed by their grit and will-power have also been roped in as significant characters in the movie. THE SWIMMERS is a must watch during this festive season to understand this aspect of life which quite a sizeable amount of humanity is grappling with all over the world.
THE SWIMMERS is a celebration of sisterhood, bonding of sisters, cinematically – a theme that has emotional appeal in India, but it is perhaps for the first time that this sisterhood is the edifice on which a film is built in a long run in the arena of World Cinema.
THE SWIMMERS underlines the aspiration of parents who desire that their children succeed in an arena of sports and use it as a channel vehicle to try and escape from a zone of conflict and venture into a zone of unknown using their expertise of sports.
Movie: The Swimmers
Director: Sally El Hosaini
Cast: Nathalie Issa, Manal Issa, Ahmed Malek, Matthias Schweighöfer, James Krishna Floyd, Ali Suliman, Kinda Alloush, Elmi Rashid Elmi
Duration: 134 Mins