A pilgrim's trail tale

It has been a decade since Vernon resident Wayne Emde ventured out along a pilgrim's trail in Spain, and once again his adventure is coming to the big screen.

Emde and his friend, Jack Greenhalgh, strapped on their backpacks and left the French village of St. Jean Pied de Porte 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.”

Along the way, they met many people, including a film crew.

“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,” said Emde.

“We met with our team every couple of days for brief interviews as we made our way across Spain. 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.

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 a thousand screenings on the PBS network. 

That documentary will be shown at Vernon's Towne Theatre Monday.

“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. 

Walking the Camino - Six Ways to Santiago will have two showings at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. on April 1. Both Emde and Greenhalgh will be in attendance to introduce the film and to answer questions after each showing.

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