The town of Phil Campbell, Alabama, bears the full name of its namesake, Englishman Phillip Campbell. The story goes that Mr. Campbell was told that if he’d build a railroad, he could have the town named after him.
In 1995, the town began having “Phil Campbell Conventions,” and everyone named Phil (or Phyllis) Campbell was invited. The conventions had faded in recent years, until a town centennial was planned for 2011.
Sadly, most of the town was destroyed when an EF-5 tornado came through on April 27, 2011. Some 26 people (in a town of less than 1,100) died in the storm. This did not deter the Phil Campbells from coming to the town. The convention was changed into a relief effort known as “I’m with Phil.” Phil Campbells from around the world showed up to help.
This documentary, by Phil Campbell filmmaker Andrew Reed, covers the small north Alabama town and the relief effort after the tornado. It’s an authentic look at a small town that pulled through in a time of hardship.
The film can be seen at the Zodiac Theatre, 416 North Court St, Florence, Alabama, on Friday March 2, as part of the George Lindsey Film Festival.