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Ruin and Rose takes skiing into dystopian territory

New film by Ben Sturgulewski and Matchstick Productions premieres at the Maury Young Arts Centre



Usually, the biggest apocalypse in a skier or snowboarder's life is seeing the melt-off kill the season too early.

But American writer-director Ben Sturgulewski wanted to take the drama of his new ski film Ruin and Rose into true dystopian territory.

"With the name Ruin and Rose, I wanted the juxtaposition of ruin and chaos with rebirth and rising up. That is what the film is about," says Sturgulewski over the phone from Telluride, Co.

The film is incredibly visual and in keeping with Sturgulewski's style, with high overhead shots and impressive locations. First off, there are sweeping waves of thick, luscious... sand. Sand?

Going to Namibia's Skeleton Coast, with enormous dunes that run into the sea, the story tells of a world that has crumbled into dust, as told through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy, "Charlie."

"I wanted a narrative that looks at when the world ends and everything is over, where do we find hope? And I think that is what I got," Sturgulewski says.

Eventually, Charlie escapes the sand and gets to explore the beauty of the mountains, and some stunning skiing, too, as he seeks the lost wonders of winter.

Sturgulewski brought the young actor, Nathan Jansen, together with his athletes who include Mark Abma, Markus Eder, Sander Hadley, Russ Henshaw, Cody Townsend, Sean Jordan, Michelle Parker and Tanner Rainville.

From Namibia, they were taken to some of the most glorious ski locations on Earth, including Les Arcs in France, the Selkirks in B.C., Alaska, and, of course, Whistler.

Ruin and Rose is getting its Whistler premiere with two shows at the Maury Young Arts Centre on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. (all ages) and 9 p.m. (19-plus). Tickets are $20, plus $1.50 in booking fees.

Sturgulewski previous film, Valhalla (2013), told the story of one man's search to recapture his youth and confirmed the filmmaker's narrative path.

"My whole background is in storytelling. Stories allow people to absorb information in ways that a documentary or some other format can't. Narrative is an ancient medium for how we've always translated our philosophies. For me, it's really compelling," he says.

It's the antithesis of ski porn, he adds.

After spending most of the summer editing Ruin and Rose, it premiered in Aspen in mid-September.

"When you want to do something different it is true, you do have to think outside the box," Sturgulewski says.

"I want to engage people and go to, hopefully, a deeper level."

Matchstick Productions approached Sturgulewski to make the film. Initially, he was reluctant because he was feeling burned out in terms of ski films as a genre, but after a year he decided to go for it, so long as Matchstick allowed him "to do something weird."

"They recognized that I wanted to try something new and I think that is awesome on their part and pretty brave," Sturgulewski says.

"It's a pretty out-there film, indie but on a bigger level."

Watch the trailer at www.skimovie.com. To purchase tickets, visit www.artswhistler.com or visit the Maury Young box office.