Okanagan Screen Arts Society is excited to present Walking the Camino, Six Ways to Santiago on Monday, April 1 at the Vernon Towne Theatre. This film includes Vernon resident, Wayne Emde and his friend Jack Greenhalgh and chronicles their journey, along with those of the other pilgrims, as they made their way to Santiago. Emde and Greenhalgh will both be in attendance to introduce the film and to answer questions after each both the 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. showings. Advance tickets available at the Towne Cinema box office and Expressions of Time bookstore.
Ten years ago Emde and friend Greenhalgh strapped on their backpacks and left the French village of St. Jean Pied de Porte and set out on a 800 kilometre trek along the centuries old pilgrim path, the Camino Francaise, to Santiago.
“The previous year, I had walked a 1,200 kilometre Buddhist pilgrimage path in Japan with my oldest son Jason,” Emde said. “When I told my old friend Jack it, he said that it had been his goal for 35 years to walk the Camino in Spain.”
It wasn’t a difficult decision to agree to walk the Camino with Greenhalgh. The two had met years before while both were employed at the Vernon Cadet Training Centre, Emde as the Public Affairs Officer and Greenhalgh as the Senior Padre. Over the course of several summers, the two became friends, and when Emde’s wife Joan passed away, Greenhalgh conducted the funeral service.
On the first day on the Camino path, climbing over the Pyrenees, the two noticed a videographer on his knees shooting a close up of a snail. Later that day, they saw a film crew interviewing one of the pilgrims. On the second day, at a rest stop, they again saw the film crew and chatted with them.
“They were shooting a documentary on the Camino and were looking for pilgrims to take part in the film,” Emde said. “I pitched Jack as a possible candidate. He’s a retired Anglican priest with a serious interest in medieval church architecture.”
After a brief discussion, the two signed on.
“We were uncertain as to what their motives were, but we decided if we didn’t like what was happening, we could simply ignore them.”
It turned out that Lydia Smith, a film documentary producer from Portland, Oregon, had walked the Camino the year before and had been so moved by the experience that she mortgaged her house to finance the project, gathered an international crew of photographers, sound men, drivers, and co-producers and headed to Spain.
“We met with our team every couple of days for brief interviews as we made our way across Spain,” Emde said. “It was a true documentary in that nothing was scripted, nothing was reshot.”
In all, about 12 pilgrims were part of the project, but in the editing process, the film concentrated on six.
“We were the old guys,” Emde said.
After years of editing, the film was premiered at a film festival in Santiago. Emde was able to make it to the event, where the film won the Best Documentary Award.
“It was a wonderful reunion with many of the crew and some of the other featured pilgrims,” Emde said.
In the following years, the documentary has won numerous awards at film festivals and been shown around the world. In December, it had over 1,000 screenings on the PBS network.
“One of the unexpected results of taking part in the film is that we’ve had the opportunity to share our experience and to encourage others to make their Camino,” Emde said.