The Newport Beach Film Festival to present award-winning documentary on Spain's famed Camino de Santiago Trail

What is it about Spain's ancient Camino de Santiago trail that lures hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to spend weeks, even months, walking 500 miles with nothing more than a backpack, a good pair of boots and the promise of experiencing something truly extraordinary? This enduring mystery is now the subject of an award-winning new documentary, “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago.”

The crowd-pleasing film has been packing screenings wherever it has been seen:




Following sold-out showings at Ashland International Film Festival and winning the Audience Favorite Award from the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs, “Walking the Camino” will be screened by the Newport Beach Film Festival on Saturday, April 27, at 2:30 pm at The Triangle and on Wednesday, May 1, at 2:30 PM at the Fashion Island Cinema. Tickets are available through the festival website.

Called a “brilliant documentary” by “The Way” star Martin Sheen, “Walking the Camino” uniquely captures actual stories from the trail itself as it follows in the footsteps of six “pilgrims”—each one on their own life-changing journey that ultimately concludes in a profound reawakening for both viewers and the adventurers alike.

Lydia B. Smith makes her feature film directorial debut with “Walking the Camino,” which was shot on location over a period of six weeks. “The veteran 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 last two decades, she has traveled the world producing hard-hitting specials for CNN and PBS, as well as directed her own educational shorts on such inspiring subjects as the positive impact that children with disabilities can have on those around them.

Most important, Smith had hiked the Camino prior to making the film. She knows firsthand the evolution of emotions and physical challenges that travelers encounter as the miles roll by. It was during her own Camino experience that someone suggested the idea of making a film, but Smith initially resisted. “I was scared I couldn’t do it justice. But then that’s what so many of us do: we stop ourselves short from pursuing our dreams because we think we can’t do something perfectly – when actually it’s the journey that counts above all.”

The following spring, Smith was back with an award-winning international crew that included acclaimed Chilean cinematographer Pedro Valenzuela and accomplished producers Sally F. Bentley and Theresa Coleman (also the second unit director of “Walking the Camino”).

Divided into two camera units, with an additional floating cameraman, the group spent six weeks conducting walk-and-talk and stationary interviews. In addition, each featured pilgrim recorded hours of their own video-diaries during moments of introspection on the trail or inside the albergues (special pilgrim hostels), giving an incredibly intimate insight into the minds of these adventurers.  By the time principal photography was completed, Smith and her crew had shot more than 300 hours of footage.

Far more grueling than the filming itself, though, has been the ongoing process of raising the funds necessary to complete the nonprofit production.  Smith, Bentley and other members of her staff have now toiled for four years without compensation, and her film crew worked for only $100 a day. Even so, the need for funds continues as the film begins its own journey on the international film festival circuit, before debuting on PBS.

Learn more about donating to this extraordinary film by clicking this link. To visit the official website, please go to

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