When a walk becomes a pilgrimage

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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.

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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.

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