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Title image:  Phenix City.
Title image:  The Fight for the Soul of a Small Southern Town.

Legend has it that General George Patton threatened to take his tanks across the Chattahoochee river and flatten Phenix City, Alabama. Secretary of War Harry Stimson dubbed Phenix City "the wickedest city in America." In the early 1900's the area, known then as Sodom, was a haven for criminals hiding from the law in other states. The dependence on illegal activity grew stronger during Prohibition when Phenix City became the main source of illegal liquor for the residents of prosperous Columbus, Georgia, just across the river. The wave of soldiers training at nearby Ft. Benning around WWII brought more money, which was lured from their pockets with gambling, prostitution and drugs. Organized crime in the small town grew strong enough to resist takeover attempts by Chicago mobsters showing interest in Phenix City's money.

Hugh Bentley, a gentle, good natured sporting goods store owner and Sunday school teacher was content to look the other way, like everyone else in town, until he attended a convention in Chicago. Discovering that Phenix City's reputation for organized crime was bad even in Chicago, Bentley felt the heat of an intense shame overtake him. Bentley and local attorney Albert Patterson formed the Russell Betterment Association (RBA). Risking their families, their homes, their businesses and their own personal safety, the members of the RBA fought to free their town of vice. The story attracted national attention in 1954 with the assassination of Patterson and the declaration of Martial rule.

Phenix City: The Fight for the Soul of a Small Southern Town explores the complexity of evil as corruption and vice look for ways to legitimize profits. A story that is as relevant today as it was in 1954, Phenix City addresses the importance of community activism through the lessons learned from history. (Coming in May 2003)


Title image:  Stefanie's Story

Stefanie's Story is a short film about a young woman's life following a tragic car accident. Stefanie Kitts, a violin prodigy, was saying goodbye to her ex-boyfriend when his car lost traction on a wet road and collided head-on with another vehicle. Stefanie suffered a severe brain injury. She was not expected to live, stayed in a coma for three months and then woke up to amaze her family, her doctors and the world. Stefanie's Story is about the will to live and to regain dignity and independence following a traumatic brain injury. It is an inspirational tale about the gifts of talent and family.

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Copyright Kim Bauldree 2002 all rights reserved
Last updated October 24, 2002
For more information contact bauldree@ufl.edu