SOUND OF FREEDOM opens with a haunting shot of an impoverished young girl perched on her little bed somewhere in the likes of Honduras or Colombia. The child is trying to make music by clapping together a pair of shoes- her only way to demonstrate her joy in believing herself rescue-worthy and freed. She will later be sized up and preyed upon by a local “talent scout” who works for a criminal child sex trafficking ring. For the unaware, this means people who steal Third World Country (and other) children and sell them to adults-pedophiles- many in the United States- who will use them as sexual slaves…
Meanwhile, these innocent souls are abducted, taken and stowed in some disgusting place to await their eventual sale to the highest pedophile bidder who has been enticed by their respective “professional” photos.
Enter Tim Ballard (played by Jim Caviezel) who is, as was in real life, a Special Agent for the Homeland Security Investigations assigned to the pedophile detection detail in Calexico, California. A family man with a loving wife (played beautifully by Mira Sorvino), Ballard has his heart broken nearly nightly as it is his sole responsibility to screen and prove seized evidence is, in fact, child pornography. Indeed, there is no doubt his team’s arrests are duly warranted, however it is pointed out to him that, despite these numerous pedophile arrests, their group has not saved even one child who might have been endangered. Ballard’s heart is further broken when he encounters the young boy (Miguel) who has been abducted and makes a plea- which Ballard cannot refuse- to save his still-entrapped big sister Rocio.
Written and directed by Alejandro Monteverde, the film takes off from there on a wild adventure ride through Colombia and into the deeps of the Amazon region. Ballard goes undercover with the zany Vampiro, a seeming “loser” alcoholic drifter with a big heart for endangered children. The combination of the US agent’s heroic dutiful father’s blind passion and ex-pat Vampiro’s zero regard for self-safety is winning.
The cast includes Jim Caviezel (who starred in “The Passion of the Christ”), Eduardo Verastegui, Mira Sorvino (as Tim Ballard’s understanding wife, Katherine), Bill Camp (as eccentric and hard-boiled “Vampiro”), Kurt Fuller (as Ballard’s angsting police department boss), and Gerardo Taraca.
The film is important in its attempt to raise awareness of the existence- and in such volume- of child sex trafficking. It is both heart-breaking yet uplifting at the same time (spoiler alert). As such, one must wonder why it had such a long and arduous trip to theaters beginning sometime in 2015- when it was purchased by 21st Century Fox but then shelved when Disney purchased Fox- and only finally being shot in 2018. And not sure why Disney wanted so badly to distance itself from this story- especially since, according to the International Labour Organization, human trafficking is about a $150 BILLION industry- second only to the illegal drug trade- with sex trafficking cases outnumbering labor trafficking.
The filmmakers eventually were successful in buying back distribution rights, then able to raise distribution and marketing costs by way of equity crowdfunding. Some 7,000 investors contributed $5 million in just two weeks’ time, and Mel Gibson, Dana Whit, Elon Musk, Ben Shapiro, Jewel, and the Family Research Council have all endorsed this film. IF you’re wavering because you’re fearful of having to sit through some tear-jerker faith-based homily, Variety’s Owen Gleiberman has this to say in his review: “… you needn’t hold extreme beliefs to experience Sound of Freedom as a compelling movie that shines an authentic light on one of the crucial criminal horrors of our time, one that Hollywood has mostly shied away from…”
On the flip side of Gleiberman’s review, one might consider Grammy-Award winning performer Lauren Daigel’s reminder of how child sex trafficking is a textbook example of the depravity exemplified in Judges 19.
Sound of Freedom had its release date July 4, 2023, at select theaters. Well worth the two hour and 15 minute run time, this film, rated PG-13, is not for young children, but definitely for older ones, accompanied by parents, who need to know this could happen to anyone- to one of their friends or to themselves.
For more information, and to locate a theater near you for viewing, please visit the film’s official web site.
Directed by: Alejandro Gomez Monteverde
Distributed by Angel Studios
Produced by: Eduardo Verastegui
Production Company: Sante Fe Films
Edited by: Brian Scofi
Genres: Biography, Drama, History, Thriller
Music by: Javier Navarette
Run Time: 2 hours 15 minutes (which flies by)
Some recent reports. (US and Australia, August 8, 2023).
More in Ohio, October 3, 2023.
More in Florida, October 17, 2023.
More in Oklahoma, December 22, 2023