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Professor's workshop to open with Hollywood screening

  • Way of St. James
    Way of St. James  Also known as the Camino de Santiago, The Way of St. James is a historic pilgrimage winding through southern France and northern Spain.  Image courtesy of Creative Services/Cindy Baker
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Hollywood stars Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen are screening their new movie, "The Way," Feb. 18 during a Workshop on Pilgrimage Studies co-hosted by the College of William & Mary and Georgetown University’s department of Spanish and Portuguese. The ticketed event will open a two-day workshop for scholars of the Camino who are organizing a Consortium of American and Canadian universities to offer summer seminars in pilgrimage studies on site in Santiago starting in 2012.

Both Sheen and Estevez will take part in the event to be held on the Georgetown campus. The screening is slated to be the largest of the film on the east coast of the United States prior to its national release in April.

"The Way" is a fictional account of one man’s journey on the Camino de Santiago or Way of St. James. The movie was filmed entirely in Spain and France along the pilgrimage’s actual historic route from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

“The picture’s exploration of the Camino and its affect on its pilgrims make screening this film a natural opening for our Workshop,” said William & Mary Professor George Greenia, lead scholar for the Workshop and international Consortium.  “We are looking forward to an evening with two great actors of Spanish heritage who knew the Camino intimately before they began writing and filming this movie.”

The story follows the journey of a grieving father’s struggle to better understand his late son. Sheen plays Tom, an American doctor who comes to France to collect the remains of his adult son killed in a storm in the Pyrenees while walking the Camino. To learn more about the son’s life, Tom decides to embark on the pilgrimage in his son’s place. Estevez, the film’s director, also plays Tom’s son.

Greenia has a passion for the Camino. He has taken William & Mary students to walk the 500-mile Camino francés route across Spain every year since 2005 and has, himself, logged more than 4,000 miles on the Camino. In 2007, Greenia received the Cross of Isabel the Catholic - Spain’s highest cultural distinction for foreign nationals. He is the first person in the College’s history to receive the honor, which is bestowed by the king of Spain and akin to the Order of the British Empire or France’s Legion of Honor.

Pilgrimage studies have been taught in some form at William & Mary by faculty in modern languages, history, English, religious studies, art history and classical studies since 1992.  The Consortium will bring together more than 30 university programs from the U.S. and Canada.

“As a professor of Spanish, medieval studies, and comparative literature I am very happy to be part of the workshop and excited by the many possibilities Pilgrimage Studies and the Camino de Santiago open up for future undergraduate research,” says Emily Francomano, director of the comparative literature program at Georgetown University and an associate professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese.

In addition to William & Mary and Georgetown, co-sponsors of the workshop are, to date, the Embassy of Spain; the Autonomous Government of Galicia; The Plaza Institute; Tiempo Latino; the Bank of Georgetown; and American Pilgrims on the Camino.