‘Ruin and Rose’ might be the most original ski film you’ll ever see

After more than 20 years of making ski films, Matchstick Productions wanted to switch things up for their new movie, Ruin and Rose.

So the team decided to do the most logical thing and head off to a desert in Africa for the shoot.

“Matchstick told me they wanted to do something different,” the film’s director, Ben Sturgulewski, told GrindTV. “Well, this film, in every level, is a gamble.

“We went to shoot with child actors in Namibia. Ski movies don’t do that.”

According to the team at Matchstick, the movie’s entire composition is unlike anything seen in ski films before.

As opposed to a constant barrage of shots of skiers tearing up some of the world’s best mountains backed by an adrenaline-fueled soundtrack, the film follows a fictional narrative set a world away from the mountains.

Ruin and Rose
Matchstick wanted to make sure their new movie was unlike anything you’ve ever seen, so they traveled to Namibia. Photo: Courtesy of Matchstick Productions

“We thought about an opening scene where a kid finds a snow globe buried in the sand,” said Sturgulewski. “So we created this whole world around it where basically there’s nobody left in the world except for these small kids who live in an abandoned refugee camp in the desert.

“There’s no water, no mountains, no snow. Everything is sand, and everything is hopeless. But they find a snow globe that hints at this place called Xanadu.

“It’s their first sign of hope and it kicks off the main character’s journey to find snow and winter, and in doing so find water to help him and his tribe get through.”

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That search for snow isn’t a small plot device to kick off the ski film, and that’s perhaps where Ruin and Rose varies from tradition the most: Sturgulewski estimates that half the movie centers around this fictional boy’s search for the mountains — not skiing.

And that was a very intentional move.

Ruin and Rose
The filmmakers went to an abandoned monument to communism in Bulgaria to help properly capture the post-apocalyptic ethos. Photo: Courtesy of Matchstick Productions

“We could have made another movie that was just banger after banger after banger, no story and music,” Murray Wais, Matchstick’s co-founder and the film’s executive producer, told GrindTV.

“But we wanted to take on new challenges and see what we could do to move audiences in different directions. We wanted to reach a wider audience by mixing things up, and I hope it will have a more lasting impact.”

Sturgulewski and Wais said the reason for the departure from the usual ski-flick structure was to help fans connect with the film on a deeper level.

“In the end, it’s a story about the redemptive quality of nature and the mountains and what it can inspire in young kids,” Sturgulewski said.

“Hopefully those are ideas that ring true to us today.”

While Wais embraced the humanistic aspect, he also made it a point to note that the film carries a pointed environmental message.

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“It’s an intentional message about climate change,” said Wais. “The main message we wanted to send with the movie is that the mountains are a special place in the winter and skiing is a great sport.

“And if we want it to continue, we need to think about the actions we take in regards to climate change.”

Ruin and Rose Sammy Carlson
The story isn’t all doom and gloom; it still packs in jaw-dropping ski parts, as Sammy Carlson (above) shows. Photo: Courtesy of Matchstick Productions

Now that they’ve delivered on their goal of creating something completely new, Sturgulewski and Wais say all they can do is hope people are receptive to it.

“We wanted this film to say, ‘Hey, let’s stop and think about the world we live in,'” Wais said. “But not everyone wants to hear that all the time.

“Luckily, our audience as skiers are a pretty naturalist crowd, so we think they’ll appreciate it.”

“It’s a film we’re all super proud of, and we’ll see how well it gets received and whether or not we went too weird or not,” said Sturgulewski.

“We went further into the unknowns of the ski-film industry than anyone prior. And I’m quite pleased we kept it there.”

Ruin and Rose premiered Sept. 16 in Aspen, Colorado. The crew is currently on their film tour and the movie will be available for download and purchase by mid-October.

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