Cinema to Encourage and Inspire: I'll Push You

Justin and Patrick, lifelong friends who show us what deep friendship and faith can be.

Justin and Patrick, lifelong friends who show us what deep friendship and faith can be.

This Thursday (November 2, 2017), theaters all around the United States will be hosting a one-time showing of I’ll Push You (watch the trailer below), the story of two lifelong friends who walk the Camino together. I had the pleasure of previewing the film, and interviewing Justin, Patrick, and one of the film's directors last week, and I can't recommend this film highly enough. You will leave the theater encouraged and inspired, whether or not you are interested in the Camino. (Stay tuned for a future blog with highlights from my interview.)

Justin, who was born the day before his friend Patrick, uses a wheelchair due to a rare disease that attacks his nerves. After a year of training, the purchase of a special wheelchair, and the support of their wives, the two friends set out on the Camino Francés. Along the way they struggle through common Camino challenges such as muddy, uneven terrain and injury, but  with broken wheels, and a lack wheelchair accessibility in European hotels, hostels, and albergues.

The film trailer and promotional info led me to expect a one-sided relationship, but the story of what really happened was quite different. Patrick gives physical help, Justin receives; Justin gives spiritual encouragement, Patrick receives. I won’t spoil any of the details, but suffice it to say that both men had a unique journey that will be an encouragement to many different kinds of people.

Friendship and faith are two key words that come up in a lot of the press surrounding this film, and it’s no accident. In a culture that seems incapable of conceiving of a relationship between two men (or any two people) that isn’t romantic or erotic, I’ll Push You stands as a refreshing display of true friendship. There’s no attempt to downplay the familiarity between these guys, no sign of homophobic emotional distance. They are best friends, and don’t care what people think.

Faith in the film is largely unspoken, though there are scenes of prayer and several shots of the religious art along the way. Rather, the movie shows the actions of faith; in all their struggles, they keep going, and become more and more open to other pilgrims helping share their journey.

The shots of the Camino itself are beautiful and by themselves make this film a worthy entry in the line of documentaries and films about the Camino de Santiago. Seeing the trail from the perspective of the wheelchair brings out all kinds of new details, and the music will draw both aspiring and experienced pilgrims into feelings of strain, joy, and release as Justin and Patrick summit mountains, reach goals, and finish their journey.

Below is a trailer for the film. Watch it, and then follow this link to Fathom Events to get your ticket for your local theater!


Hunter Van Wagenen’s Camino experiences began in 2007 when he was a high school senior. He enjoys sharing humorous and miraculous stories in addition to practical advice he has collected during his walks. He and his wife Stephie's dream is to live in Spain helping pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. They currently live in Greensboro, NC.