Sisters on Track – the extraordinary coming of age documentary about three determined track star sisters racing against all odds on a journey toward hope and a brighter future – premiered this week on Netflix.
Union Partner/Editor Sloane Klevin served as Supervising Editor on the film, with Andrew Doga on board as co-editor. Partner/Managing Director Caryn Maclean post-produced the project for Union.
The Netflix original had its U.S. Premiere in the Viewpoints section of Tribeca earlier this month and began a one-week theatrical run at the IFC Center on June 23. Sisters on Track was produced by Sant & Usant, and directed by Corinne van der Borch and Tone Grøttjord-Glenne.
The film chronicles the coming-of-age story of the Sheppard sisters: Tai, Rainn, and Brooke, who were propelled into the national spotlight in 2016 with their first-time wins at the Junior Olympics. The resulting media storm landed the trio on the cover of Sports Illustrated Kids as “SportsKids of the Year” and they were able to move from shelters into their own home. The film offers a rare intimate glimpse into a tight-knit Brooklyn family’s journey to recover from trauma and tragedy.
With the support of their mother, Tonia Handy, and the guidance of coach Jean Bell, the Sheppard sisters aim to beat the odds, dream big, and aspire to higher education as they are finding their voices as athletes and students – all while processing the growing pains of adolescence.
At the heart of the story is the bond between sisters and an entire community of women, passing the baton of self-empowerment and hope through track and field, from one generation to another. Watch the trailer below:
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And there’s a poster.
“Editing is all about finding creative ways to solve the puzzle that is within every film,” the directors said in a joint statement, “making hard choices and at the same time keeping the heart and soul of the message. To trust someone with your material is a big thing!”
They add, “When Union came aboard with editors Sloane Klevin and Andrew Doga (and the extended Union team, including post-producer Caryn Maclean) we could feel the necessary connection and trust that we as directors needed to feel.”
“Fortunately, Corinne had watched everything over the years and had great notes on the footage to tell us what shoot days to watch as we went along,” Klevin said. “Her notes were so specific, and invariably we found our selects and hers were completely aligned, which made things move quickly. When you know you are seeing the same things in the footage as the directors, it gives you so much confidence to do what feels right to you.”
“I think originally the idea was to tell the story all through the young girls’ point of view,” Klevin recalled. “But I found Coach Jean to be such a fascinating character and decided that she would be our guide. She could see the bigger stakes the girls could not, and articulate things they didn’t have the maturity yet to see. She had a more macro view of their story. Also, I just loved her backstory and personality, and the multi-generational aspect to this story — how she is passing on to the girls what her coach passed on to her. The larger community of women all helping each other was really inspiring to me, and I wanted to include that.”
“Sloane has an amazing ability to reveal each character in a very intimate and true manner, at the same time keeping an eye out for the themes that the film is exploring such as sisterhood, belonging, being a change-maker and being a girl in America today,” the directors observed.
“Andrew has a great boldness as an editor that we really respect him for. Editing the opening of the film, he found a rhythm and an editing style that made it possible to include the family’s amazing backstory in a seven-minute-long opening sequence, while preparing the audience for the more intimate story that we wanted to tell.”
“I have worked with Andrew off and on for 14 years. We know each other’s strengths really well, and were able to divide and conquer the film in a short period of time,” Klevin noted. “He is so smart and gifted, and knows Premiere better than I do. Netflix trusted me, as Supervising Editor, to find the story in the 4 years worth of Verite footage. At the same time, Andrew’s instincts about pace, style, character, and story made it possible to make this deadline with a final film that is beautifully and sensitively edited. I loved the collaboration with him, and knowing I could trust that his half of the film was in great hands. We literally divided the story in two, like on a series, and met in the middle!”
“Sloane has been a true mentor to me, so to have her wisdom and guidance throughout the process, and to finally get to work side by side (virtually, that is), was really special,” Doga related. Of the subject matter, he said, “As a New Yorker born and raised, I’m always excited to help represent a real New York underdog story like this, but I could tell that this film was much more than that. Corrine and Tone had captured such an honest and intimate portrait of a certain slice of the population that honestly doesn’t get represented as much as it should. I think at its core this film is really about the endurance of the human spirit, and I am honored to help share it with the rest of the world.”
Doga is currently working on an undisclosed feature documentary for HBO. Beyond Sisters on Track, Klevin has been consulting for Netflix on two undisclosed feature documentaries and is in negotiations on two series. She edited 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 picked up by Discovery+ ahead of its World Premiere at this year’s SXSW. Klevin and Union Entertainment Group are also developing Fleit’s next film, which will be her narrative feature debut.
- Producers: Anita Rehoff Larsen, Tone Grøttjord-Glenne
- Executive producer: Sam Pollard
- Directors: Corinne van der Borch, Tone Grøttjord-Glenne
- Story consultant: Shola Lynch
- Photo: Derek Howard, Corinne van der Borch
- Sound: Veralucia Quipse Chirinos
EDIT: Union NY
- Supervising Editor: Sloane Klevin, ACE
- Editor: Andrew Doga
- Post Producer: Caryn Maclean
Music supervisor: Janet Rich
Music supervisor: Maureen Crowe
Composer: Mark Batson
Original score: Tarriona Ball, Tank and the Bangas