‘The Swimmers’ chosen as Toronto International Film Festival opening night gala film

A sign bearing the Toronto International Film Festival logo is carried on a fork lift in downtown Toronto on Thursday September 7, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

“The Swimmers,” a movie about two sisters fleeing Syria, will be the opening night gala presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The film from director Sally El Hosaini is based on the true story of the Mardini sisters, who were forced to swim for hours alongside their overloaded boat to reach Greece from Turkey in 2015.

El Hosaini says the film, which is produced by Working Title and Netflix, is a good fit for a city as diverse as Toronto.

Previous opening night films include “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band.”

TIFF has been rolling out its lineup one at a time this year, rather than announcing it all at once.

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The festival runs from Sept. 8 to 18.

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