Martin Sheen stars in 'The Way,' a film about the Way of St. James

Director Emilio Estevez and his father, Martin Sheen, have debuted their new film, "The Way," in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The movie, which focuses on the Way of St. James, is being dubbed "the great film of the Year of St. James."

At the premiere of the film, which will eventually be shown on 150 screens across Spain, Culture Minister of Andalusia Roberto Varela remarked that the movie is "a beautiful story" that perfectly represents what the Way of St. James means.  "It exemplifies the physical and exterior journey, but above all the journey of interior transformation," he added.

The film's producer, Julio Rodriguez, said the film will be seen on 150 screens in the country and later in U.S. theaters.  He said he hopes the movie will be viewed "all over the world" because of its "universal" appeal.

Rodriguez and Estevez have been pleased with the response to the film especially among young people.  Trial screenings in the U.S. drew an average audience of 300-400 people.  Estevez said 97 percent of those who screened the film said they would recommend it, and 90 percent said they would like to walk the Way of St. James.  "This is about educating Americans about what the Way is," he stated.

A "love letter"

"This film is a love letter addressed to Spain," Estevez told reporters, noting that his father and grandfather are both from the Spanish region of Galicia.

Martin Sheen said the film has fulfilled "a life-long dream" and that he was happy to "return home" to his roots in Galicia. Returning one year later to Santiago to see the finished product was an emotional experience, he added.

Estevez said it was a "blessing" to work with his father and that he witnessed "many miracles" while directing the film, especially "finding the right people at the right time for the right thing," he said.

Filmed during September, October and November of 2009 along the ancient Way of St. James that leads to the city of Santiago de Compostela, "The Way" recounts the story of Tom Avery, an American doctor who travels to France after learning of the death of his son, killed in the Pyrenees while walking the Way of St. James.  He decides to finishes his son's journey and experiences his own spiritual awakening.

Co-starring Deborah Kara Unger, Yorick Van Wageningen and James Nesbitt, the film was shot entirely on location along the Way of St. James.

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