Stephen Daldry to work on film about hero Olympic Syrian swimmer
Stephen Daldry has confirmed he's doing a film about an Olympic Syrian refugee swimmer.
The 56-year-old award-winning filmmaker - whose previous credits include 'Billy Elliot' and 'The Crown' - has teamed up with Eric Fellner, co-chair of Working Title Films, to find a screenwriter to work on the project based on teenage swimmer Yusra Mardini.
Mardini, 18, fled war-torn Syria in 2015 with her sister Sarah and competed in the 2016 Rio Games.
But their journey wasn't as easy as stepping on a plane - they attempted to sail from Turkey to Greece when their boat capsized and were the only swimmers on board who could save their fellow passengers.
Speaking about what makes Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini so special that a film should be made about her remarkable feat, Daldry told the Daily Mail newspaper: "She's an amazing woman. One story must speak for many. What we do know is a catastrophic situation in their town made them flee war. They made an extraordinary journey across Europe, and the one skill she [Yusra] has - swimming - was what saved her life."
Mardini competed for the official refugee team in the 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly at last year's Olympic Games held in Rio and currently lives in Berlin.
Now the search is on to find the right person to portray her in the film, of which the film title is not yet known.
Daldry explained: "It's rather important that we find someone who can act and swim."
But when it comes to finding young unknown stars to play star-making roles, Daldry has a proven track record as he picked Jamie Bell to play the lead in 2000 comedy-drama film 'Billy Elliot'.
And not one to shy away from tackling taboo subjects, whether it's boys becoming ballet dancers or refugees becoming Olympic swimmers, Daldry added: "Refugees are normal people without homes. This is just a great story about a kid with an ambition, just like Billy Elliot."
And it's not the only film Daldry is involved in which involves refugees - in the autumn he will direct a National Theatre production about Good Chance refugee theatre in Calais. He says he wants people to connect to "these incredibly brave people".