Raising Stars

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“It’s great being a main character in a big movie, but it also ruined parts of my life.”

– Merlin Reinders, 13 years old

“When your body begins to fill with adrenaline and you get fired up, it’s a feeling that nothing else can give you.”

– Merlin Reinders, 13 years old


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The film dives into the darkest of places, uncovering the real and raw impacts of young ambition on a family. On the surface glimmer the medals, results and momentary smiles. But at the core is the cost of raising stars.

“It’s definitely going to be a one of a kind movie; one that thousands of families in all sports will relate to. It shows something never shown before.”

~Mark Sharp – CHPC, Head Coach & Program Director Team Panorama and Ex-Canadian National Team and World Cup Coach

This 60+ minute docudrama film features two athlete sons and life over a time span of five years from age 8 and 12. The mother opens up the lives of her family and shares a highly personal point of view. In Raising Stars, you’ll see a cinematic collage of brotherhood, the love and hate of a sport, the downfall of constantly pushing boundaries, and the tension between shame and pain against success and exhilaration. It is a skier’s art film.

“Since the very first moment I got a glimpse of Raising Stars’ trailer, I was convinced to endorse this project. It is very important to support this project on a broad level.” 

~Prof. Dr. Sabine Rollberg, ARTE France/Germany

The Approach

One of the earliest and most significant grants Mechthild received was from Canada Council for the Arts (the biggest arts funder in Canada). It gave her the mandate to tell a personal account – a mother’s point of view – of the family’s story. Even though Mechthild was passionate about making this film, it was difficult to balance the motivations of being a filmmaker against her maternal instincts and the needs of her boys. She had to find some good help. This is where Michael has come in. He’s helped her move her passion and (at times) chaos forward during some very difficult personal times. He’s been using his skills as an editor for this trailer and will be leading the charge for postproduction of the German and English versions of the full Raising Stars film. The German version will be released early 2016 and the English version will be ready in the spring of 2016.

The Family

Reinders family


A typical German family?

Once considered a “normal” family, the Reinders moved to Canada 13 years ago from Germany with their athletic young boys. They played outside all year round and roamed wild. They were “the last children in the woods” and went on epic backcountry trips. They were so close to Mother Nature.

As parents, Mechtild and Matthias tried to help their kids grow wings and support their aspirations; they wanted to help them achieve their goals. However, the commitments they had made became overwhelming. Raising their stars turned into a deep family burden and eventually all of them became victims to potential, ambition and success. They want to share this story with you; the story of Raising Stars.

Merlin Reinders is Mechthild’s younger son. He stood out as soon as he hit the slopes and was called a “magic kid”. He is one of our province’s most decorated ski racers in his age group, and his life’s goal is to become a ski Olympian; a world-class champion.

“Out of everything I’ve done in my life, never have I experienced anything like when I’m on the slopes. When your body begins to fill with adrenaline and you get fired up, it’s a feeling that nothing else can give you.” ~ Merlin

Moritz Reinders is Mechthild’s older son. He is an academic perfectionist who’s referred to as “gifted” by school assessors. He studies like a maniac and was called “one of the very few that would make to make it to the top” by a former ski coach, but he couldn’t keep up with his younger brother as a rising ski champion.

“Working with your family on a project of this scale can mean rescinding your right to privacy; rarely to be left alone in emotionally charged moments.” ~ Moritz



the Reinders boys

Merlin and Moritz

The stats, tallying it all up

5+ years of filming Raising Stars =

  • 1,000 hours of raw footage + 12 different cameras + 9 camera people +  countless frost bitten body parts + 1 broken meniscus + 1 shredded ACL + 2 loans from a life insurance clause + thousands of $$$ borrowed + ½ of a professor’s income spent on racing + 5 camera repairs

Accomplishments = 

  • 3 major grants in Canada + ARTE’s (French-German TV) commitment to buying Raising Stars! + tons of encouragement to do a crowdfunding campaign so the film can be finished

A life of competitive sport =

  • 2 boys + 1 mutual addiction to speed + 0 chances to sleep in + up to 220 or more days/year skiing + 0 friends for 9 months/year + ½ the school year missed + at least 6 pairs of new skis/year + 35,000 km of young boys’ lives spent on highways + countless nights in crappy hotels and cheap motels

“What do you think? Is it crazy that I still contemplate the burning question of whether it was worth it? Maybe it’s a mother’s love, the drive to help her kids fulfill their dreams? But I ask you to help me answer this nagging question once the film is completed and you can watch it.” ~Mechthild



One of Merlin’s artworks

Early Pilot

Produced at The Banff Centre, this pilot was instrumental for the initial grant applications

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