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Maria’s life work is counting the pilgrims passing by on Spain’s Camino de Santiago

The Christian pilgrimage known as the Camino de Santiago originated in the 9th century. Today, it remains a popular trekking route for pilgrims religious and secular alike, with a network of routes beginning in France, Portugal and Spain, and ending in the town of Santiago de Compostela in the northwest of Spain.

Maria’s Way (2009) chronicles a day in the life of an elderly Spanish woman living along a Camino de Santiago route. There, just outside of her home, she has for years kept count of pilgrims and offered them stamps, which help credential them along their trek. Filming from behind Maria’s small route-side stall as she goes about her daily routine, the Scottish director Anne Milne’s short captures Maria interacting with gold-toothed nuns, rude youngsters with cameras and kindly pilgrims who are curious about her life and work. A feisty woman who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, Maria’s presence lends the film humour and heart. But more than just a slice-of-life profile, Milne’s film demonstrates how even the most outwardly mundane tasks can have deep resonance.

Director: Anne Milne

15 February 2021

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