Alejandro Monteverde’s film Sound of Freedom, based on a true story, is a gripping work of great power. It has an intelligent script and a captivating cast of actors. In addition, the cinematography of Gorka Gómez Andreu is stunning and beautiful. The principal photography was done in Cartagena, Columbia, with additional scenes shot in Calexico, California. The film was produced by Eduardo Verástegui who also plays a role in the film. It is distributed by Angel Studios (“The Chosen”).
Sound of Freedom is a film of two stories. The locale of the first section opens in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and it opens with a long side shot of a modest house. We see through the window a silhouette of a seemingly happy little girl playing a handmade drum in her bedroom. Her name is Rocio (played with remarkable depth by actress Cristal Aparicio) and her father, Roberto (played by Josè Zùñiga) is a hardworking, yet poor man. He aspires for good things for his daughter and her younger brother, Miguel (Lucás Ávila).
Roberto is approached by a former beauty queen, Katy Giselle (played by Yessica Borrotto Perryman). She mentions that she heard Rocio singing in the market and was struck by her talent, beauty and poise. She states that she runs a children’s modeling service and thinks Rocio would be a good candidate to become a child model. Then she spots Rocio’s brother Miguel and says he too, would be a great model. She gives Roberto a card with an address on it and advises him to bring the children to that address for a photo shoot that night.
Roberto agrees and brings the children to the agreed upon location. Giselle advises him to come back in a couple of hours, hurriedly mentioning “stage parents.” As there are several other children in the room, Roberto reluctantly agrees.
When he returns later, all the children are gone. His children have been kidnapped. It is revealed shortly after, in the context of the film, that his children have been sold into the sex trade industry.
The film cuts to Calexico, California where Tim Ballard is tearfully looking at slides of child pornography. Ballard, at the time, was working as a Special Agent for Homeland Security investigations, working on a case where he participated in the arrests of people who possessed and distributed child porn. The job was stressful and wreaked havoc on his home life with his wife, Katherine. (The Ballard’s also have nine children, two adopted.) His stresses at work increase when he is advised by a coworker that, despite the arrests of the abusers, they have not rescued any of the child victims in regard to the case they are working on.
Tim and Catherine Ballard are played to great effect by Jim Caviezel and Mira Sorvino. Caviezel, among many roles, played Jesus Christ in “The Passion of the Christ.” Mira Sorvino has done great work both as an actress and as an activist. She previously won an Academy Award for the film “Mighty Aphrodite.” The Sound of Freedom demonstrates that they are both at the height of their acting prowess. More importantly, since the film’s release they have become even more eloquent spokespeople against child trafficking/sex slavery.
In the film, Tim Ballard experiences several “Road to Damascus” moments.
After many of the horrors he’s seen and the roadblocks with his Homeland Security job, Ballard is encouraged by his wife, Katherine who tells him, “You quit your job and you go and get those kids.”
And in Columbia, Ballard meets Vampiro, a former drug cartel accountant and a passionate advocate for the saving of exploited children. For a secondary character, Bill Camp’s portrayal of Vampiro is a true delight to me. One of my favorite moments is when he questions Ballard’s motivation. Ballard states the pinnacle line in the film: “God’s children are not for sale.”
After reading that a child sex club in Thailand had closed down, this sets up a perfect story for Ballard and Vampiro to try to acquire a group of children from Katy Giselle’s large child trafficking operation.
I will offer no further description of the film but I would be amiss if I didn’t describe the performance of the “Scorpion,” El Alacran, a pedophile and a drug cartel leader. He was played with dark menace by Gerardo Taracena.
The entire cast was uniformly excellent. The actors that portrayed the child traffickers in the film were believably frightening. All of the child actors played their roles perfectly.
My biggest concern, in my anticipation of viewing this film, was the potential for rape scenes. Fortunately, when it seemed like a rape was going to occur between a child and a pedophile our view of the activity was obscured by the lighting of the scene or by a piece of the scenery. Mercifully, that occurred only a few times in the film. It was more effective by the avoidance of the specific, horrific details.
There has been some criticism that Sound of Freedom is inaccurate, if not fictional. Because of the seriousness of the subject matter, media outlets like the New York Times have ridiculously criticized the film as being too “solemn.” Not surprising, as the New York Times usually pursues the gratuitous and the obvious, the dark and the devious. Anything good or noble seems to be beyond their reach.
Other media outlets, like MSNBC, have accused the film as being part of a “Q-anon conspiracy.” I find little conspiracy in the truth. Many members of the media and the entertainment community have inappropriately denigrated this film. Perhaps the subject matter strikes too close to home?
By my observation, the mainstream media and entertainment industry continuously operate almost like they were the devil’s publicist. They promote the worst in the news and the worse attributes of our so-called entertainment industry. They don’t call it “programming” for nothing.
Sound of Freedom had been in the can at Disney studios since it’s completion in 2018. Disney seemed like they were going to let the film just gather dust on their shelves. Fortunately, Angel Studios (“The Chosen,”) stepped in for distribution and the film was finally released on July 4, 2023.
As of this writing, Sound of Freedom has earned over $100 million in ticket sales. This film is handily beating out mainstream films like “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” which, ironically, is distributed by Disney.
During the closing credits the screen referenced pertinent information. One point was that human trafficking is a 150 billion dollar-a-year business. Other points absorbed are that the United States is one of the destinations for human trafficking and is one of the biggest purchasers of child sex. It is time for America to undergo a moral reawakening. The sexualization of young children is being encouraged. If you don’t stand firm, evil always flourishes. In my research, I found out that child trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.
Additionally, there are more people that are slaves in current captivity than any other time in history, including the period when slavery was legal.
The audience where I viewed the film was deathly quiet. This was an unusual reaction in what would normally be an active theater. Unashamedly, I wept throughout the film. Several folks, including my friend and me, gave the film a standing ovation at its conclusion.
I stayed in my seat until the theater was almost empty. I was changed.
Ambivalence creates the co-conspirator in us all. There are many co-conspirators in regard to the perpetuation of child trafficking/sex slavery. Here is a partial list:
Any country that allows an unaccompanied child to head towards the U.S. southern border should share the crime if that child is captured and sold into slavery.
President Trump created a child trafficking task force.
On taking office, Biden dismantled that same task force.
Recently, President Trump had a private viewing of Sound of Freedom in Bedminister, New Jersey. Trump understands the seriousness of child trafficking/sex slavery and securing our borders.
Biden and his administration have practiced a distinct dereliction of duty in their securing of our Southern border. They have failed to uphold their oath of office and as a result are co-conspirators within the issue of child trafficking/sex slavery as many children are disappearing in the invasion at our border. Meanwhile, Biden & Harris merely cackle and continue to do nothing. A completed border wall would help to prevent the massive influx of trafficked children as it limits the port of entry.
As I have stated and written before, Biden seems to be a creepy and unseemly creature in the presence of children. Equally culpable are the members of Congress and the media that oppose border security. Co-conspirators all.
Our current society seems to be more interested in the promoting of abhorrent lifestyles to the child instead of protecting them. We are lining them up to be groomed.
How many children have been snatched by traffickers or cartels on their way to America? How many children are sold into slavery as sex slaves or made to work for the cartels?
Human trafficking is a worldwide crime. 27% of human trafficking victims are children and I discovered in my research that in the Middle East there is a use of children for organ harvesting. Horrific.
It is not only our sovereign security that is at stake, but the safety and security of the children of the world coming through our borders. In the opening credits of Sound of Freedom there is actual real footage of children being snatched, in many cases right off the street. My eyes are now completely open. Especially when I realize how easy it is to capture a child. Personally, I support the death penalty as a punishment for child traffickers and child rapists. I have no forgiveness for unrepentant monsters. If you rob someone of their humanity through rape, I feel that you have lost the right to your own.
Tim Ballard left the Department of Homeland Security in 2013 and formed the non-profit group, Operation Underground Railroad. This organization has rescued thousands of children. Ballard is a patriot and a Christian. I admire his morality and his longstanding dedication to the protection of our most innocent citizens. In recent interviews, Tim Ballard and Jim Caviezel behave like brothers in Christ. Their efforts demonstrate that they are both profound and worthy Christians. I am immensely impressed with Tim Ballard’s character and Caviezel’s portrayal of that character.
When Ballard left Homeland Security and formed Operation Underground Railroad, he was cash poor. My research revealed to me that conservative Glenn Beck funded some of the early operations of the Railroad. Admirable and noteworthy.
During the closing credits there is a brief video message by Jim Caviezel. His normal speaking voice has a soft, meditative tone and his empathy for the intense journey that we, as an audience, have gone through is comforting. As a writer, I was moved by his description of the importance of the storyteller. He quoted Steve Jobs who said, “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller.” He also referenced Lincoln’s acknowledgment of Harriet Beecher Stowe in her book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and its assistance in the uprising against slavery in America.
I believe art and literature, when enacted with the will of God and an honest intent, can move our collective souls.
Despite the ignorant and unwarranted criticism of this stunning film, Sound of Freedom will continue to sound the clarion call that child trafficking/sex slavery is an unacceptable problem that needs to be resolved in our lifetime. The humanity of a civilized society is determined by the manner by which we take care of our children and our elderly. Currently, we are failing.
As servants of Jesus Christ, we must communicate hope and faith even as we navigate through this dangerous world. The words “deliver us from evil” have never meant more.
For additional information on Operation Underground Railroad refer to: https://ourrescue.org