Back in the 1970s, the American revivalist and evangelical churches rode a wave of popularity unmatched today, and the movement’s sweetheart was Tammy Faye Bakker.
Tammy was a controversial and often sympathetic televangelist who captured the attention of Christians across North America until her fortunes plummeted. Based on a documentary of the same name, The Eyes of Tammy Faye stars Jessica Chastain in the character role.
The Friends of St. Albert Public Library are screening the movie as part of its Reel Monday fundraiser series on Monday, Oct. 3 at the Arden Theatre.
“The fact that Jessica Chastain won the Oscar shows it’s a pretty good movie,” said Valerie Spink, procurer of Reel Mondays films.
Tammy, a larger-than-life personality who sang like an angel and plastered makeup on her face with a trowel, built a religious television empire with her husband, Jim Bakker. However, the high-flying televangelists' lives fell apart when Jim was accused of sexual assault and convicted of fraud.
The Bakkers became popular for their television series, The PTL Club, which was a weekly Christian evangelical variety show. Unlike most televangelists of the era, Tammy Faye was accepting of the LGBTQ community and people with AIDS at a time when there was a lot of fear, mistrust, and confusion. Jerry Falwell, another conservative pastor, was increasingly politicizing Christianity and pressured Tammy to downplay her support of the LGBTQ community.
The mandate of Reel Mondays is to provide full-length movies that are both entertaining and provide food for thought as well as much-needed funds to the library.
“Council is considering cuts of $1.5 million to the library. That would be a devastating cut. Whatever the Friends can raise, we will pass on to the library,” Spink said.
Last season, Friends contributed $2,500 to the library, a diminished number due to the pandemic. However, pre-COVID, the group averaged a donation of about $6,000 per year. An additional challenge is that Criterion Pictures, a company that issues the licence to operate films, takes 35 per cent of the gross.
“We’re doing the best we can, and hope people will come support the library.”
The Eyes of Tammy Faye starts at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Arden Theatre. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the box office, 780-459-1542, or online