The Camino is a 500 mile trail that crosses west across Spain. Pilgrims from across the world travel there each year, hoping to finish the spiritual journey that ends in Santiago de Compostela, where the bones of the apostle St. James are believed to be buried. From as young as three to as old as 73, Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago follows many pilgrims on their quest across Spain. Each has their own reasons, whether it’s for spiritual growth, or personal, but their experience is one that they share with each other.
While the Camino was historically a journey to discover spirituality and find a deeper connection with God, it has come to mean something more for anybody willing to take the trip. Even if it wasn’t a connection to God that each person was looking for, there is an overwhelming amount of pilgrims who come away with a deeper understanding of themselves, and those around them, that parallel the kind of religious experience others are seeking.
Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago is a beautiful film. From the landscapes that the pilgrims walk through, to the personal experiences that each person shares, viewers are witness to the beauty and tranquility on display. Director Lydia Smith does a remarkable job of capturing the different parts of the journey. Everyone begins with an enthusiasm you won’t find anywhere else, and everyone hits a wall that seems almost impossible to overcome. Friendships and even relationships, are created here, and the audience becomes a silent companion to each different pilgrim. Their triumphs become ours, and their exhaustion and pain, is palpable. You’ll feel as if you’ve taken this journey, and you’ll be anxiously waiting for the next trip to begin.
Watching each person accomplish the task at hand is quite inspiring, but it’s what they find along the trip that is truly moving. The kindness displayed by complete strangers, either taking part in the pilgrimage or within the various hostels and homes the pilgrims stay in, show a world full of hope. Volunteers open their homes to the pilgrims, feeding them and offering them a warm place to rest, and all they ask in return is to hear the stories the pilgrims will share. It’s a solitary journey, but also one that is communal and both aspects are what makes the journey and documentary, truly special.

Is Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago opening weekend worthy?

The only thing better than watching this film, would be to travel to Spain and experience the Camino personally. The film will inspire viewers and remind everybody that there are plenty of good, kindhearted people in the world, simply waiting for others to share their stories.
Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago opens Friday, July 18, 2014 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Check their website for more information.