Mardini, who’s now 18, and her sister Sarah left their hometown in 2015 after their house was destroyed in the Syrian Civil War. After reaching Turkey, they arranged to be smuggled into Greece by a boat, which began sinking after the motor stopped working. Mardini, her sister and two other people who were able to swim pushed the boat, which contained 14 other refugees, for more than three hours until it reached the island of Lesbos.
The women eventually settled in Berlin. Ysura was a member of the Refugee Olympic Athletes Team and competed in the 100-meter freestyle and the 100-meter butterfly.
“It’s rather important that we find someone who can act and swim,” Daldry said. “She’s an amazing woman. One story must speak for many.”
Daldry has been nominated for an Academy Award for best director of “The Reader,” “The Hours,” and “Billy Elliot.” He was nominated for best picture for “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”
Daldry is also an executive on the Netflix series “The Crown,” which has been renewed for a second season.