McCone Irvine Auditorium
McCone Building
499 Pierce St
Monterey, CA 93940
View in Campus Map

Open to the Public

The Smell of Money film title card showing a pig farm with blue sky above and pink waste pond below.

Who pays the price for what we want?

The Smell of Money:  Film Screening and Discussion
Monday, April 22, 2024 (Earth Day!)
6:00pm to 8:00pm Pacific Time (reception to follow)
In-Person Event and Virtual via Zoom
Irvine Auditorium, Middlebury Institute of International Studies
499 Pierce Street, Monterey, CA 93940
Free, open to the public


Film Trailer:  The Smell of Money

About the Film

When a corporate hog farm moves in––uninvited––on land her grandfather had purchased after claiming his freedom from slavery, Elsie Herring decides to fight back. But as her rural community becomes the epicenter of the pork industry’s explosion in America, Elsie’s struggle to save her family’s home and heritage turns into a battle against one of the world’s most powerful companies and its deadly pollution.

After decades of intimidation and defeat, Elsie and her community team up with a gutsy small-town lawyer to take the world’s largest pork company to court. An epic, nine-year legal battle ensues, and the residents risk everything to reclaim their rights to clean air, pure water, and a life free from the stench of shit.

A story about the power of love for one’s family and community to triumph over even the largest forces of injustice, The Smell of Money calls upon viewers to see the people behind what’s on our plates––and to join the fight for a better future for us all.

About the Film Makers

Shawn Bannon - Director/Producer/Editor/Cinematographer

Shawn Bannon is an award-winning filmmaker whose films have screened at Sundance Film Festival and AFI FEST as well as on The Atlantic, Forbes, and BBC America. His short films, Hurricane Heroes, Bloody Barbara, and A Ghost Story – 10 Pages, have been Vimeo Staff Picks. He recently directed The Green Knight Documentary for A24. The Smell of Money is his first feature-length documentary.

Jamie Berger -Writer/Producer

Jamie Berger is a writer and filmmaker born and raised in North Carolina. Her writing has been featured in Vox, The Guardian, USA Today, NowThis, The News & Observer, and more. Throughout her career, she has used writing and visual storytelling to draw attention to issues ranging from environmental racism to the climate crisis to other injustices wrought against people, animals, and the planet.

Directors’ Statement 

As a filmmaker, I’m drawn to stories of injustice that seem like they’re from another time, long ago, but that are happening right now in the United States. I had heard about Duplin County, North Carolina from the film’s writer and producer, Jamie Berger, and I had seen the headlines:“environmental racism.” “pollution.” “people getting sick.” “hog shit sprayed on people.”“government corruption.” But I struggled to imagine what was actually going on.

I learned that several hundred people who live near hog farms had joined forces and were suing the world’s largest pork producer,Smithfield Foods. And I discovered that given Smithfield’s enormous local power and strong ties with the government, it was highly unlikely that the community would win.

It seemed like a compelling David-vs.-Goliath story that could bring to life a pressing social justice issue: the true cost of the world’s cheap pork.

Event Itinerary

5:30pm: Doors open

6:00pm: Event begins (film runs 84 minutes)

7:25pm: Discussion & Audience Questions

8:00pm: Reception begins (wine & light refreshments served)

In-Person Event Location: Irvine Auditorium

The Irvine Auditorium is located in the McCone Building at 499 Pierce Street, Monterey, CA, 93940, on the campus of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Attendees should enter through the glass doors from Pierce Street, and the Irvine Auditorium is located inside to the left. View the campus map.


Parking is available in any Middlebury Institute campus lot after 5 p.m., no parking permit required, no fee.  View the campus map.  Free parking is also available on the street (time limits on surrounding streets end at 6 p.m.).

Joining Remotely

The Smell of Money film is available for a $5.00 rental fee on various platforms, see the film website at:  (Film runs 84 minutes).  Remote attendees are encouraged to join us for the brief introductory remarks via Zoom at approximately 6:00pm, then watch the film on their own, rejoining us for the discussion at approximately 7:25pm Pacific Time.  

Zoom Link

Password: NoPlanetB

Meeting ID: 934 1666 0930

Or iPhone one-tap :

    US: +16694449171„93416660930#  or +16699006833„93416660930#

Or Telephone:

    Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

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    Phone Password: 955312037 (no participant id, press # to bypass)

    International numbers available:


Contact Rachel Christopherson at the Center for the Blue Economy at or (831) 647-4183.

Gratitude to Our Sponsors

We thank KAZU radio, 90.3 KAZU-NPR for the Monterey Bay Area—a community service of the California State University, Monterey Bay and the Nancy Eccles and Homer M. Hayward Family Foundation.

About the Host:  the Center for the Blue Economy

The Center for the Blue Economy is a research center at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.  Our mission is to provide economic and policy analysis that supports the development of a robust and equitable blue economy for the 21st century. The Center uses the World Bank’s definition of the Blue Economy: the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health. 

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