Best Spiritual Performance of 2008

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Judges' Award Winner: Richard Jenkins in 'The Visitor'

Richard Jenkins in The Visitor

Beliefnet Film Awards Judges' AwardBFA judge Sr. Rose Pacatte describes the character played by Richard Jenkins, Prof. Walter Vale, as "an everyman who had everything, then lost his wife; now he has no life, no meaning, no reason to keep going, to get out of bed in the morning." One day, he travels from his home in Connecticut to New York City--where he also has an apartment--on business and discovers that an immigrant couple, Tarek and Zainab, have taken up residence in his home. Rather than throw them out, he becomes involved with their plight, even paying for Tarek's legal fees when he is arrested and threatened with deportation. This is, after all, not long after 9/11 when Middle Easterners are viewed with suspicion, even a gentle musician like Tarek, who leads drum circles in Central Park.

"Richard Jenkins gives my favorite performance of the year as a broken man who finds that life can be good again," says BFA judge Gareth Higgins, "and recognizes that one of the ways we become more human is through taking responsibility."

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