EXCLUSIVE: Primetime Emmy nominee Kate Mara and The Green Knight filmmaker David Lowery have boarded Shawn Bannon’s feature documentary, The Smell of Money, which centers around Elsie Herring and her North Carolina community as they square off with the multibillion-dollar pork industry, which has been spraying animal waste on their homes and land for decades.
The pic, written by Jamie Berger, will premiere at the Sarasota Film Festival.
Bannon also producers. Michelle Cho serves as associate producer.
A century after her grandfather claimed his freedom from slavery, Herring and her rural North Carolina community are fighting the world’s largest pork company for their freedom to enjoy clean air, pure water, and a life without the stench of sh**..Sitting on her front porch one sunny day in the 1980s, she felt droplets pouring down on her––but a revolting odor made clear that what landed on her skin and clothes was not rain. The farmer next door had begun spraying hog waste into the air to empty the pit of manure housed on his farm, a practice he and thousands of other North Carolina hog farmers continue to this day. It was then that Herring decided to take on the pork industry, as did other North Carolina residents affected by its pollution. For decades, she and her colleagues signed petitions, contacted elected officials, and even testified before the United States Congress––to no avail. They were up against the world’s biggest pork company and its founder Wendell Murphy, who used his power as a state legislator to clear the way for the industry’s explosive growth. The smell of hog waste, he says, is the smell of money. Due to Murphy, Eastern North Carolina now has the highest concentration of industrial animal farms in America––possibly in the world. Mona Lisa Wallace, owner of a small-town law firm, could never have imagined the battle she was in for when she signed up to represent Herring, and her associates roughly 500 other North Carolina residents in 26 lawsuits against Murphy’s company in a nine-year fight. Bannon’s films have screened at the Sundance Film Festival, AFI Fest, The Atlantic, Forbes, and on BBC America. His short films, Hurricane Heroes, Bloody Barbara and A Ghost Story – 10 Pages, have all been selected for Vimeo Staff Picks. His most recent film, The Green Knight documentary, was made for A24 and is available on iTunes now.
Lower’s The Green Knight has been a bright spot during the pandemic at the specialty box office, grossing over $17M. His feature directing credits include Disney+’s Peter Pan & Wendy, Robert Redford’s big screen swan song The Old Man & the Gun, A Ghost Story starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, Disney’s live-action Pete’s Dragon, and another Rooney Mara-Casey Affleck reteam Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
Kate Mara received a Primetime Emmy Guest Actress in a Drama series nomination for Netflix’s House of Cards in 2014. She recently starred in the Sundance Film Festival premiere, Call Jane, and in the upcoming movie Ghostwriter. Other feature credits include The Martian, Chappaquiddick, 127 Hours, We Are Marshall and Brokeback Mountain. On the TV side, Mara received critical acclaim for her turn in FX’s limited series, A Teacher, and also starred in Pose, American Horror Story season 1, and 24.
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