Enjoying its World Premiere at South by Southwest 2021 in the Documentary Feature Competition is Introducing, Selma Blair, a deeply intimate and raw portrait of the actress after she is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and makes a valiant, risky effort to try to slow the progression of her disease.
The film marks the feature doc debut of director Rachel Fleit, and was edited by Sloane Klevin, a partner at bicoastal Union. Klevin previously edited Fleit’s documentary shorts Barbara and Stanley: A Modern Romance (co-produced by Union Entertainment Group and Killer Films Media) and Gefilte (co-produced by Union Entertainment Group and Shiny Pictures).
Fleit’s latest short, Ava and Bianca, cut by Union’s Chris Huth, took home the Jury Award for Short Film Documentary at the 2020 Bentonville Film Festival.
It was announced on Friday that discovery+ picked up Introducing, Selma Blair ahead of SXSW, and plans to distribute the film later this year.
“Really, what I was able to capture was this remarkable woman as she became a disabled person and chose to fully embrace herself. In watching her story unfold, being so close to it, I had my own kind of transformation, too. I really understand now what it means to find gratitude on a daily basis, to be at peace. That’s Selma’s message, one I think we all need right now and always,” Fleit adds.
When Introducing, Selma Blair came about in Summer 2019, Klevin had not cut a feature in five years. “I had been focusing on expanding the Union NY office, editing a slew of commercial projects, and I really needed to do a movie,” she recalled. “Offers came in, but I wanted to do it for love.”
Klevin had won an Emmy Award for editing Alex Gibney’s Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (HBO), which also received a Peabody Award. As a consulting editor on Netflix’s The Great Hack, she did only a small amount of actual editing, and “I was hungry to cut a feature from start to finish by myself again. Having been with Rachel from her first film,” Klevin said, “this was the perfect opportunity.”
“I knew as soon as I started to shoot with Selma that Sloane needed to edit this film,” Fleit stated. “Sloane cut my first two short documentaries and we have developed a cinematic language, she knows my style and it comes across on screen so effortlessly. I also knew that Selma’s experience would resonate with Sloane, and while I think that all people can identify with Selma’s story, there is something truly powerful about two women crafting the narrative of this particularly valiant woman.”
Fleit is represented for spots through Good Story Films, and her commercial projects cut at Union include a UBS spot with Laura Milstein, a Cadillac campaign for SpikeDDB with Andrew Doga.
Additionally, graphics for all three of Fleit’s short films have been done by Union’s Chris Bialkowski, who was joined by Union graphics producer Tim Vierling in creating the graphics for Introducing, Selma Blair. “I have been able to call Union Editorial my creative home since the real start of my career,” said Fleit, “and even though ‘home’ meant working from our own homes this time, remotely, I felt so supported by the team and I am so proud of the work we all did to get this film to the finish line.”
Ultimately, Introducing, Selma Blair is everything Klevin hoped it would be. “Selma and Rachel had a tremendous intimacy with one another, and with the Director of Photography, Shane Sigler, as well,” Klevin related. “My great joy is in editing fly-on-the-wall verite footage. I love when a filmmaker really embeds with their subject. I’m just so glad I had the opportunity to do it, and am excited for people to experience it.”
Since delivering Introducing, Selma Blair and and the Netflix feature documentary Sisters on Track, which she co-edited with Andrew Doga, Klevin has been consulting for Netflix on an undisclosed feature documentary and is in negotiations to do two more projects with the streamer.
Klevin and Union Entertainment Group are also developing Fleit’s next film, which will be her narrative feature debut. “Watching Rachel become a really confident, accomplished, writer/director has been truly exciting,” Klevin concluded. “She’s become part of the Union family, and I hope to be working with her for a long, long time.”
- Directed by: Rachel Fleit
- Produced by: Mickey Liddell, Phil Shilaimon
- Produced by: Troy Nankin
- Executive Producer: Cass Bird
- Co-Producers: Beau Ward, Merdod Haydari
- Director of Photography: Shane Sigler
EDIT: Union NY
- Edited by: Sloane Klevin ACE
- Partner/Managing Director, Union NY: Caryn Maclean
- Post Producers: Katherine LeBlond (Union LA) and Susan Motamed (Union NY)
- Asst Editors: Adriana Machado, Jean Taylor, Lee Hayden, and Tommy Palumbo
GRAPHICS: Union NY
- Graphics Artist: Chris Bialkowski
- Graphics Producer: Tim Vierling
COLOR & FINISHING: Nice Shoes
Colorist: Maria Carretero
SOUND: Dungeon Beach
- Re-recording Mixer: Tim Korn
- Sound Designer: Tommy Stang
- Dialogue Editor: Jennifer Ruffalo
- Music by: Raphaelle Thibaut