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Paulo Coelho biopic wraps in Santiago de Compostela

Paz Vega stars in film of bestselling Brazilian author’s life

Some of the cast and crew from the movie, pictured in Galicia. Ampliar foto
Some of the cast and crew from the movie, pictured in Galicia. EFE

The filming of El peregrino: la mejor historia de Paulo Coelho (or, The pilgrim: Paulo Coelho’s best story) has just wrapped along the Camino de Santiago, the famous Way of St James pilgrimage route, in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, in the northwest of Spain. It’s a biopic of the bestselling Brazilian writer that never loses sight of his work and which director Daniel Augusto hopes will show a completely unknown side of The Alchemist author.

Shot in Brazil and along the Camino de Santiago — places chosen for their importance in Coelho’s life and work — it’s no ordinary biography, says producer Iôna de Macêdo.

The movie features multiple shifts in time and space, with the connecting threads his relationship with the Camino — the writer cites his 1986 trek along the 500-kilometer-long pilgrimage route as a turning point in his life and details it in his book The Pilgrimage — as well as his lesser-known work as a rock music lyricist.

Among the Spanish performers in the film are Sex and Lucia star Paz Vega and actor-comedian Nacho Novo. At the presentation of the film at a hotel in Santiago de Compostela this week both stars said they felt comfortable acting in a foreign language.

“I don’t speak Portuguese but we understood each other perfectly,” says Vega.

“It was a very close and fun crew, with which you work very quickly,” agreed Novo.

Many of the details of the film have yet to be revealed. In fact even Coelho himself has yet to read the script and won’t see the finished result until December. The movie is set to be premiered in Brazil at the beginning of next year, but does not yet have a release date in Spain.

Full freedom

The movie has Coelho’s blessing and producer and screenwriter Carolina Kotscho based her research on interviews she conducted with him over three years.

“They let us tell the story as we imagined it,” says producer Iôna de Macêdo, referring to the freedom they were allowed on the project.

Two actors star as the Rio de Janeiro-born author in the movie: brothers Ravel and Julio Andrade play Coelho as a youngster and as an adult, respectively.

The author, who is now 65, has lived an “incredible” life, say the pair, who define the project as “magical in every sense.”