“Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago” is an award-winning documentary directed by Lydia B. Smith that became a phenomenon on the international film festival circuit for selling out screenings the same day they were announced. The film will premiere on Saturday September 14th, at 2PM and 7PM at Boise Center on the Grove (Summit Room). The event is in conjunction with Kurt Koontz’s worldwide book launch of “A Million Steps”.
Tickets are $10 advanced / $15 at door. There will be a free Camino tutorial at 5PM with both Lydia B. Smith and Kurt Koontz.
Tickets for this event can be purchased online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/435028
Boise native, Kurt Koontz’s new book “A Million Steps”, climbs over the high meadows of the Pyrenees, quests through the unceasing wind of the Meseta, and dances in the rains of Galicia. While following the yellow arrows that mark the route, Koontz also navigates through his personal history of addiction, recovery, and love. With outgoing humor and friendliness, he embraces the beauty of the countryside and joyful connections to other pilgrims from around the world. Part diary, part travelogue, “A Million Steps” is a journey within a journey all the way to the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela and beyond.
The film “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago” has been called a “brilliant documentary” by Martin Sheen, who starred in “The Way,” directed by his son Emilio Estevez several years ago. Over 1200 years old, Spain’s 500-mile-long Camino de Santiago trail served as a major passageway for millions of pilgrims during the Middle Ages, when the Knights of Templar are said to have patrolled the route to protect their safety. Today, several hundred thousand people a year descend on the mostly unpaved path with little more than a backpack and a pair of boots. Through “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago,” we are able to journey into the hearts and minds of six actual modern-day pilgrims as they cope with blisters, lack of sleep, and periods of loneliness and self doubt to triumph over fears and prejudices that have become roadblocks to living a fulfilled life.
Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago” has resonated with audiences on three continents since its debut in April, when it instantly sold out five screenings at the Ashland Independent Film Festival and went on to pack the house for much of a six-week regular run at the Varsity Theater. The film has been honored with the Audience Favorite Award from the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs and the Outstanding Achievement in Documentary Filmmaking Award from the Newport Beach Film Festival, among others.
It’s hard to imagine another filmmaker better suited to capturing the Camino’s unique spirit than Lydia B. Smith, who makes her feature film directorial debut with “Walking the Camino.” The veteran documentary filmmaker had previously lived in Barcelona for six years, where she worked as a production coordinator for Spanish, Dutch, English and American television shows and commercials. Over the past two decades, she has also produced hard-hitting specials for CNN and PBS, as well as directed her own educational shorts on largely-overlooked subjects, such as the positive impact that disabled children can have on those around them.
Smith had even walked the Camino, all 500 miles of it, giving her the perspective that can only come from actually experiencing the range of emotions and physical challenges that travelers undergo as the miles roll by. “I can honestly say that it is impossible to put one foot in front of the other for 500 miles and not come out of it changed forever,” she says. It was during her own Camino adventure that someone suggested the idea of making a film. At first, Smith resisted. “I said, oh no, I can’t do that. It’s so sacred and beautiful.”
But by the following spring, she was back in Spain, accompanied by acclaimed Chilean cinematographer Pedro Valenzuela, former Portland producer Sally F. Bentley and Theresa Tollini-Coleman, a Bay Area-based producer who also served as the second unit director on “Walking the Camino.” The team also included two longtime collaborators back in the states: Jacoba Atlas, a former Vice President of Content for PBS, responsible for more than 300 hours of programming that had produced 30 Emmys and three Academy Award nominations, and Kyra Thompson, whose body of work has brought her both the coveted Directors Guild and Peabody Award, along with multiple Emmy nominations.
The crew was divided into two camera units, supplemented by an additional floating cameraman. Altogether, the production spent six weeks on site conducting walk-and-talk and stationary interviews with the six featured pilgrims. Each one was also given the opportunity to record their own thoughts with handheld cameras provided by the production. According to Sally Bentley, a former staff producer at Laika Studios who now lives in Paris, the shoot “had its own kind of energy. It was interesting, wonderful work, and being with the pilgrims, that to me was the magic of it. The Camino has this energy and sparkle about it that made the long days just fly by.”
As challenging as the filming itself has been the ongoing challenge of raising the funds necessary to complete the nonprofit production, for which Smith, Bentley, and other members of the staff have toiled for four years without compensation. To learn more about the film or to make a donation, go to www.CaminoDocumentary.org.
FILM: Lyla Foggia
Foggia Public Relations
BOOK: Kurt Koontz(208) 345-6421