When a walk becomes a pilgrimage

Written by

The 500 mile long and winding road

One piece of the 500 mile long and winding pilgrimage road

Long before writer Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and published a best-selling book about it, pilgrims were searching for peace and salvation along the Camino de Santiago, a series of roads that wends through Spain and France.

This weekend, “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago,”  a documentary about this medieval pilgrimage, opens for a week-long screening here in southern California. We talked to Annie O’Neil, who has a unique role in the film. She’s a c0-producer on the film, and also appears in it as one of six pilgrims followed for the hike. Others include a recently widowed Canadian man, walking to honor his late wife, and a young mother who brings her three-year old son along. The resulting work is like a high-minded reality TV show.

annie pyrenees1

O’Neil didn’t embark on this spiritual journey for any high-minded reasons; she did so because the director asked her to. But having made the 500-mile, six-week journey, she found herself creatively buoyed in ways she never imagined. You can see from the glorious views why such an accomplishment could impact the soul.


Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago screens for a week starting October 31 at the Laemmle Royal Theater