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Tammy Faye at Sundance: 'I'm having fun!'

Read Jamie Allen's Postcards From Sundance

Back in black: Sundance 2000 basks in 'commercial' independence

A brief history of Sundance

List: Sundance films in competition

January 23, 2000
Web posted at: 4:41 p.m. EST (2141 GMT)

By Jamie Allen
CNN.com Senior Writer

PARK CITY, Utah (CNN) -- The Deer Valley Resort's party room is packed with revelers, many of them throbbing to the techno beats coming from the DJ's sound system. Drinks are guzzled; lines at the bar are long.

And in the middle of this maelstrom put together to celebrate the opening night for Slamdance -- Park City's alternative festival to Sundance -- Tammy Faye Bakker Messner is sitting by a fireplace in a fur hat. Tabloid hounds will remember that she, along with former husband Jim Bakker, played a part in one of the most publicized scandals in recent memory.

"I am having fun!" she shouts above the music (currently, a dance mix of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean"). "My experience here has been greater than anything than I ever thought possible!"

So, why is she here?

Tammy Faye is the center of attention at Slamdance's opening night festivities

Tammy Faye's story is being told at this year's Sundance Film Festival by documentary directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. A documentary competition film, "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" is billed as the other side of the Tammy Faye story, the one opposite from the story that played out in the tabloids when the Bakkers crashed from their roles as Christian television stars. The film is receiving the kind of buzz on Park City streets that makes for Grand Jury Prizes.

So Tammy Faye is having fun, alright. But then, true to well-publicized form, her eyes are filling with tears. She's says she's so happy that the documentary is getting such a warm response.

"The night that I walked out of our premiere (at Sundance)," she says, eyes brimming on thick make-up, "I heard the applause, they stood on their feet, they gave me a standing ovation, and I started to cry and I thought everything is going to be alright. It was a wonderful, warm moment for me."

More warm moments are in store, because the film festival is just getting warmed up. With opening night festivities this past Thursday, most everyone began filling Park City streets over the weekend.

By Saturday night, hundreds lined up outside the town's Library Center to wait for tickets to see "Committed," starring Heather Graham and Luke Wilson. The stars showed up, Graham with boyfriend Ed Burns in tow, greeting the crush of cameras and fans.

Homegrown indie with star power

Earlier in the day, a news conference was held for another Sundance movie. "Things You Can Tell Just By looking At Her" has more star power than most Hollywood blockbusters, and it's indie fare. Cameron Diaz, Holly Hunter, Amy Brenneman, Calista Flockhart, Glenn Close, and Kathy Baker star in the story of five interwoven vignettes about the female experience in modern Los Angeles.

And the film's a homegrown project. Writer-director Rodrigo Garcia, son of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, nurtured it at the Sundance Institute, and this past year it zoomed into production.

"It interested me," says producer Jon Anvet when asked why he became involved in the project. He was speaking at a press conference for the movie attended by the director, Hunter, Brenneman, Flockhart and Baker. "The value is, we have put together incredible talent. I would like to see these women on screen. I donít want them home on the weekends. I want to see them work. I want to enjoy their work."

Avnet says when he first read the script for the film, he thought it was written by a woman, then later met Garcia and decided to take on the project.

"He just followed his muse," Avnet says. "There was something in him that had percolated for 39 years, and this is what came out."

More festivities are in store, of course. Several parties for various industry groups will be held Sunday night as Sundance kicks into high gear.

And Tammy Faye says she'll be around to enjoy it.

"This is wild and crazy!" she says about the music.



RELATED STORIES:
Back in black: Sundance 2000 basks in 'commercial' independence
January 20, 2000
Sundance films in competition
January 21, 2000
A brief history of Sundance
January 2000
On screen in Austin: Your future as a filmmaker
October 13, 1999
Review: Comedy rules among Sundance offerings
February 4, 1999
Vietnam War films win Sundance top honors
February 1, 1999
Complete list of Sundance 1999 winners
February 1, 1999
From Tylenol to black clothes, how to survive at Sundance
January 29, 1999
Imitations flatter while finding fault with Sundance
January 27, 1999

RELATED SITES:
2000 Sundance Film Festival
Slamdance Film Festival
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