The Swimmers is a moving film that highlights and humanises the Syrian revolution and the impact of the refugee crisis.
It follows the true story of Yusra and Sara Mardini, two Syrian swimmers who fled their war-torn country.
From seeing the Mardini sisters laughing and spending time with friends and family to embarking on a treacherous journey across the sea, we’re taken on a journey that they, and many others, have taken.
One scene of the sisters dancing whilst bombs flew in the distance highlighted the tragic reality of navigating growing up in a war-torn country.
In an interview with Amaliah, Yusra comments,
‘One scene that really touched me was the scene of the birthday party that my sister threw for me. That was real; she threw me a huge party for my 16th and when we were dancing on the rooftop, and the bombs fly, we’re still dancing and don’t stop to see them. This portrays the sad reality of our lives, and it was true.’
“I hope that audiences understand that anyone can become a refugee, and we don’t choose to become refugees.”
The war in Syria led them to make the difficult decision to leave their family and make their way to Germany by boat.
A moving scene in the film, amongst many, was when they reached the shores of Greece. After being alone at sea, with engines failing and Greece’s coast guards denying them help, they survived.
Upon reaching the shore, they took their lifejackets off, and the camera panned to the hundreds of life jackets piled up by the ocean. This paid tribute to the thousands of people that made the desperate journey across the sea, many of whom have died making the journey.
In an interview with Stylist Magazine, Yusra stated in relation to the scene;
‘That’s a real place. Unfortunately, they can’t get rid of the lifejackets because they’re bad for the environment, so NGOs are using those materials to make phone cases, bracelets and things to bring awareness to what’s happening. It’s incredibly sad to see.’
Yusra went on to take part in the 2016 Rio Olympics in a refugee team, where she won a gold medal in the 100m butterfly.
Yusra, who now lives in Germany and works as a UNHCR ambassador, is a role model to people all over the world. Her story is incredibly moving and the film highlights the perseverance, desperation and humanity of her and thousands of others’ experiences.
Whilst Yusra reaches her dream of swimming in the Olympics, The Swimmers follows not just her journey, but thousands of refugees embarking on a journey for a better life.
Refugees are often painted with one brush through the lens of western media. However, The Swimmers burrows into the heart of the refugee crisis and highlights that people do not want to flee their homes, but feel they have no choice.
It delicately humanises everyone’s experience and gives us an insight into the struggles and sacrifices made by those fleeing war and poverty.
The film is now available to watch on Netflix.