To promote the documentary, The Smell of Money, which highlights the environmental and animal rights issues related to factory farming, actors Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara have announced they will personally refund the rental cost for the first 500 individuals who pre-order the film on iTunes or Google Play. The Smell of Money is set for digital release on December 12.
The film focuses on a small rural community in eastern North Carolina adversely affected by the operations of a nearby large-scale pig factory. The film exposes the harmful environmental impact of the factory on the air, water, soil, and local wildlife, as well as its devastating effects on human health. The documentary spotlights the story of Elsie Herring, who waged a nine-year legal battle against pork producer Smithfield Foods over allegations of environmental racism and the negative consequences of the company’s practices on her community.
The Smell of Money
Director Shawn Bannon, who previously worked with Mara on A Ghost Story, expressed deep concern about the local residents’ suffering. “Now they can’t grow their own vegetables anymore, they can’t drink their own well water, they can’t even wash their own clothes because they get stained,” Bannon told IndieWire. He emphasized the community’s loss of self-sufficiency and the health challenges they face, including frequent cancer treatments.
Phoenix and Mara, who share a son, River, age 3, have a history of advocating for environmental and animal rights.
“We hope once audiences watch this film they are as moved by its important message as we are. Movies like The Smell of Money live or die by word of mouth and we would like to lend our voices and support to help raise awareness. Please share this film with your family, friends, everyone,” they said in a statement.
The Smell of Money has been shown theatrically over the last year-and-a-half, and will continue to be featured in festivals, impact screenings, and educational settings. But according to the actors, renting a movie costs a lot of money. “Here’s easy access where anybody can watch this movie right away, which is really, really cool. We’re just over the moon about it. It’s very cool of them to do.”
The documentary, directed and produced by Bannon, written and produced by Jamie Berger, and featuring Kate Mara, David Lowery, Oscar winner Travon Free, Martin Desmond Roe, and DeRay McKesson as executive producers, represents the first project of The Unreasonable, a new production company by Free and Roe.
The reimbursement offer is available only to U.S. residents with a Venmo account, and is part of a larger effort by the couple to support the film’s message and increase its visibility.