Sally El Hosaini to receive Emerging Talent Award at Toronto International Film Festival

The director’s latest film, ‘The Swimmers’, is based on the true story of Syrian refugees Sarah and Yusra Mardini

Sally El Hosaini is best known as the writer and director of 2012 film 'My Brother the Devil'. AFP
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The annual Toronto International Film Festival Tribute Awards, which recognises the achievements of exceptional work from contributors in the film industry, will be honouring Egyptian-Welsh director and screenwriter Sally El Hosaini with the Emerging Talent Award, presented by MGM Studios.

Now in its fourth year, the TIFF Tribute Awards will return to an in-person gala fundraiser for the 47th event on September 11, when it will also be honouring Icelandic composer Hildur Gudnadottir with the Variety Artisan Award.

El Hosaini’s latest film, The Swimmers, will have its world premiere on the opening night of the prestigious festival and the director will be honoured with the Emerging Talent Award.

Nathalie and Manal Issa play Syrian refugees sisters Yusra and Sara Mardini in 'The Swimmers', co-written and directed by Sally El Hosaini. Photo: Netflix

The Netflix film is based on the true story of Syrian refugees Sarah and Yusra Mardini, who fled Damascus during the civil war by boat in 2015 and were forced to swim part of the way when the motor of their vessel stopped working. After travelling on foot through Europe to Germany and eventually settling in Berlin, Yusra competed as a member of the Refugee Olympic Team’s contingent at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.

The Swimmers, written by El Hosaini and Jack Thorne (His Dark Materials, Enola Holmes 2), stars real-life sisters and Lebanese actresses Manal and Nathalie Issa, who play Yusra and Sarah. The film also stars Palestinian actor Ali Suliman (Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, The Kingdom) Egyptian actor Ahmed Malek (Kira & El Gin) and James Krishna Floyd who has previously worked with El Hosaini on her film My Brother the Devil.

El Hosaini is best known as the writer and director of My Brother the Devil (2012), the story of two teenage Egyptian brothers navigating their own prejudices as they grow up on the streets of London. The film received worldwide acclaim, winning her numerous awards including Outstanding International Narrative Feature at the LA Outfest Film Festival and Best British Newcomer at the BFI London Film Festival.

The Toronto International Film Festival will run from September 8-18 and the Tribute Awards will be held on September 11 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto.

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Updated: September 01, 2022, 9:49 AM