As I often blog about wine I occasionally I blog about films I get to preview before their release(See earlier posts). As most of you know me as a wine guy, I’m also a aspiring film producer and anytime I get to hear from other film industry professionals I jump at the opportunity.
This was the case when I got an invite to see the only Phoenix area preview of “The Way” that will be released on Oct. 7th. In addition to the preview actor Martin Sheen & the films writer/producer/director and actor Emilio Estevez were on hand to do Q & A session after the film. As this is a passion project for both of them, Phoenix was one of the 1st stops on a 50 day cross country pilgrimage on a bus to promote the film as, most passion projects are not on the radar of Hollywood movie executives in this day and age,sadly to say. So word of mouth and self promotion is a must if you want to get the film out to a wider audience.
The story starts in Ventura California where Tom (Martin Sheen)is a widowed opthamologist, who must take an unexpected trip to a town at the base of the Pyrenees mountains on the French-Spanish border. This is the starting point for the Camino de Santiago or “The Way of St. James” where pilgrims make a modern day journey through the Basque countryside on the way to the northwestern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostella. Tom decides to make the pilgrimage his son Daniel (Emilio Estevez) started but could not complete. Along the way Tom sets out alone and is very reserved. As there are many people making the pilgrimage for many reasons religious, personal or professional Tom has several run ins with others on the path, whether it’s a yarmulke wearing priest wearing or the joint smoking Dutchman, Yoost (Yorick Van Wageningen) who is doing it to lose weight. Tom slowly opens up and builds a bond with Yoost, Sarah(Deborah Kara Unger), a Canadian looking to quit smoking and Jack(James Nesbitt) a writer from Dublin who’s writing a book about The Camino. As they walk through vineyards, towns in the Basque countryside they realize they have more in common than their age and back rounds would suggest. When they stop for the night or just for a rest the Basque culture comes through as there is always a bottle of wine or two or three present with meals which leads to some interesting encounters with the locals. As they get closer to their destination they also get closer as a group having Tom’s back when he needs it. Although a drama with deeper meaning, there several lighter moments with laughter, which one often finds on our own journey through life.
During the Q & A after, we find not only was this a family affair with Martin and Emilio but Emilio’s son worked on it and married a woman he met on set and now lives in the town of Burgos, where some of the film was filmed. Martins daughter plays his office assistant in the opening scene.
Martin spoke of our sense of community, especially during these trying times and how a family reunion in Ireland in 2003 inspired the The Camino and asked Emilio to write a script. Emilio also spoke of his inspiration for the soundtrack which includes James Taylor and Alanis Morissette. Despite it’s small budget and crew some big performance’s come out and and hopefully the acting and writing will get the recognition they deserve. Not to mention the Basque countryside makes me want to put The Camino on my bucket list.
The film took on a personal feel for me as I viewed it it on Aug. 31, the anniversary of my grandfathers death and Emilio dedicated the film to his grandfathers memory. Make sure “The Way” is on your to do list when it comes out Oct. 7th, you’ll be glad you did. http://theway-themovie.com