When Lydia Smith walked the Camino de Santiago in 2009, she was not looking for material for a film. Like many other pilgrims on the 500-mile journey, she was searching for truth. There are probably as many reasons to walk as there are travelers on the path but most people seem to be trying to understand something about themselves or the world. Beyond blisters, a chance to see the world or a nifty story to tell; those who choose this path are often searching for peace.
Fortunately for all of us, Lydia returned from her experience in Spain and was compelled to make Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago. Her five-year journey to raise funds, find the crew and decide which of her subjects to include in the film is an amazing tale. Martin Sheen even used some of her 300 hours of footage as a training video for the actors in his 2010 film, The Way, so that they could understand the realities of the arduous journey. He was so moved by her film, that Martin Sheen took the time during his own preview screening to promote her film-in-progress!
The film follows six travelers from very different backgrounds, ages and skill sets, and explores their intentions and motivations as they travel from France to the city of Santiago. From a deeply religious mother bringing her three-year-old son and just-along-for-the-adventure brother, to a pair of friends walking to commemorate the death of a wife, to the middle-aged woman who struggles to complete the walk as she struggles with extreme physical pain…each person reveals their touching personal journeys along the way.
The simplicity of the day’s journey and the beauty of the countryside are captured with gorgeous camerawork. A film best enjoyed on a big screen, the Spanish countryside and mountains seem to dwarf the walkers as they wind along the paths in pairs or alone, then in small groups. Ebbing and flowing along the path; each of them finding companionship, solitude, inner strength and some measure of peace as they persevere. You are drawn into their stories and feel their joy as they arrive at their destination, the beautiful Cathedral of Santiago de Compestela. This a moving film that celebrates the pursuit of truth; as one of our pilgrims says, “I went to find the answers and realized, I don’t even know the question!” A joyful film that is a remarkable achievement by Lydia Smith and her production team, Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago is being self-distributed. Check out the links below to find when it’s playing near you (or to host a screening!) and look for it in October when it’s released for video on demand!
Rating: 4 bottle of potable water
My interview of director, producer Lydia Smith about self-distribution for her film, “Walking the Camino”. Shot on my phone in Boulder, CO. March 21, 2014