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On Wednesday evening, THR was one of only a few media outlets in attendance for a very special New York premiere of Emilio Estevez‘s The Way, which opens in theaters today. Held as a fundraiser for the Walkabout Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides wheelchairs to paralyzed people around the world who cannot afford them, the event was attended by former U.S. president Bill Clinton, a friend of the foundation’s founders. After the lights came up, Clinton gave a seven-minute speech in which he cheered both the film and the foundation (see above video).
The former president, who was accompanied to the event by daughter Chelsea Clinton, said: “Let me begin by thanking Emilio Estevez, the producer David Alexanian, and my friend Martin Sheen — who, when I left the White House, became my president, ’cause he was still on The West Wing… I thank the people who made this beautiful movie… I want you to know you did a good thing tonight… Thank you again Martin. Thank you Emilio for making this movie.”
The Way first screened at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival (where I caught it). It stars Sheen (Estevez’s father) as a tightly-wound doctor who decides to try to complete the epic “pilgrimmage” across the Camino de Santiago — a walk of 485 miles across Spain along “The Way of St. James” — that his free-spirited adult son (played, appropriately enough, by Estevez) was attempting to complete when he got caught in a storm and died.
The film is surprisingly moving (thanks to a tour de force performance by 71-year-old Sheen, who inherently engenders more goodwill than just about any actor I can think of) and funny (thanks, above all, to a great supporting performance by Dutchman Yorick van Wageningen), and you will be hardpressed to find a better story about a father and son, friendship, and faith this year.
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