Brow Beat

Lena Dunham Will Adapt the Story of a Syrian Refugee’s Survival at Sea

Lena Dunham looks off to the side, wearing a white sweater.
Lena Dunham attends the Boys in the Band 50th anniversary celebration at Booth Theatre. Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

Lena Dunham is slated to write the screenplay for an adaptation of A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival. Dunham was approached for the project by co-producers Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams.

The film will tell the true story of Syrian refugee Doaa al Zamel, who left Syria for Egypt in 2011 during the eruption of the country’s devastating civil war. She and her family paid smugglers to take them across the Mediterranean to Sweden, reasoning, “It is better to have a quick death in the sea than a slow death in Egypt.” Their boat was shipwrecked, forcing her to float in open water with two small children. She survived for days, witnessing the death of her husband and saving her children by holding one in each arm, with only an inflatable water ring for support.

The nonfiction book was written by Melissa Fleming, who is the chief spokeswoman for the United Nations high commissioner, and was published by Flatiron. Girls and Camping writer and producer Dunham will adapt the book for Paramount Pictures with Abrams’ Bad Robot and Spielberg’s Amblin Partners. Dunham will also appear next year in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s forthcoming film.