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The Unlikely Pilgrims | Directors' Statement

We began making The Unlikely Pilgrims nine years ago. We heard about these brave people having just finished rehab for addiction and mental health issues, attempting to walk across the entire width of Spain in a month, on a traditional pilgrim route called the Camino de Santiago. Extraordinary. And when we met them and saw how loveable they were on camera, we were hooked.

We began making The Unlikely Pilgrims nine years ago. We heard about these brave people having just finished rehab for addiction and mental health issues, attempting to walk across the entire width of Spain in a month, on a traditional pilgrim route called the Camino de Santiago. Extraordinary. And when we met them and saw how loveable they were on camera, we were hooked.

Three weeks later, after meeting and filming their preparations, we too were on a plane.

We had no idea really of what story would come beyond the belief there would be inner and outer journeys both. The intricacies of theme that grew were of course about addiction and mental health, but also of the challenge of leaving others free. Ronan’s deeply held philosophy is that help can do more harm than good when it degrades the search for autonomy. A fascinating assertion, and one that can be applied to all areas of life - parenting, friendship, any relationship really. And where is the balance? Are we too concerned with being the rescuer?

We had our own Camino shooting the film, but when we got home it was like doing another Camino all over again. Ultimately it took 8 years to get to the point that it was the right thing for it to go ahead and begin post-production. And now at the end of the process we are thrilled with the result.

- Kirsten Mallyon & John Cherry, May 2013